Knife Topped Birdhouse

Bird-exchange

Okay, so I know you all think I’ve gone off my rocker. I bought a bunch of silverware (err, excuse me flatware) from Goodwill recently. I made some Fork Photo Holders (which I absolutely adore!) And had been thinking of some cool projects to do with the knives.

Inspiration hit when my chickadee’s birdhouse roof caved in. I knew I had to act quickly and build a new birdhouse for my repeat nesters! Here is a look at the dynamics surrounding the chickadee’s annual nest location.

I had no idea that the little chickadees could continually defend their bird house from the larger birds, but they do. Every year!

I bought this $3 unpainted birdhouse at AC Moore and painted it a pretty blue;  gave it a white wash; and put a few coats of protective polyurethane on it.

Then, because I can’t leave well enough alone, I decided that the birdhouse needed something extra. Knives!!! Of course, right?!

So, here is what I did:

Materials:

Painted and Polyurethaned Birdhouse
Knives (about 14)
Wire
Wire cutters
Staple Gun
1/4″ Staples
1 Spoon or Fork Handle
Dremel power tool (with metal cutting disc, drill bit, and engraving tool)

Instructions:

Begin by removing the standard perch (yes, I really can’t leave well enough alone!)

I used my Dremel 8000 that I got for Christmas. Love it!

Then clamp the spoon or fork to a work surface and use a metal cutting wheel attachment on the Dremel to cut off the handle (those sparks will fly, so be sure to use safety goggles and keep the work area clear.)

 

Mark the width of the handle on the birdhouse.

Use a drill bit attachment to drill a series of holes to fit the spoon handle (perch) into.

I got tired of drilling holes and eventually cleared out the leftover material with the engraving tip. (If anyone is a Dremel expert and has a recommendation for a better bit to use, I’m all ears!)

Dip your handle (perch) in the E-6000,

and insert it into the slot you made in the birdhouse.

Now, time to play with the knives! Oooo, that sounds so sadistic! Measure the height of your birdhouse roof and then line up your knives to double that length (to cover both sides of the roof.)

Wrap a wire around the first knife a few times, then wrap it around the second knife a few times to connect them.

Continue connecting the knives together until you reach the double height length of the roof.

Repeat tying the knives together on the opposite side.

Drape the knives over the birdhouse roof and adjust any that have fallen out or are not lined up.

If some of the knives want to fall out, add a drop of E-6000 to the underside to secure the wire to the knife.

Load your staple gun with 1/4″ staples and staple the wire to the roof. Tap any that didn’t sink into the wood with a hammer.

Finally, add a hook to the top of your birdhouse and hang it up outside! I hope the chickadees appreciate their new home.

Note: At first I wanted to use more knives so that you couldn’t see any space between the knives, but those suckers were so heavy that I had to modify my plans.

Don’t forget to enter Elizabeth’s Shaklee giveaway that ends Saturday night!

 

Sharing my birdhouse with these fabulous link parties:

Transformation Thursday – The Shabby Chic Cottage

Tutorials & Tips Tuesday – The Stories of A2Z

Spring Projects – Centsational Girl

Show and Share – Just a Girl

Shaklee Review and Giveaway

spray-basicH2-glass-cleaner

Two weeks ago, Elizabeth contacted me to see if I wanted to offer a Shaklee giveaway to one of my lucky readers. I told her that I would appreciate if she sent me a sample first to try out the product before offering it to my readers. Before I received the sample, I did some internet research on Shaklee. I wanted to make sure that the company wasn’t a scam and basically check up on the products before offering them to my readers. What I found was that it is a Multi-level marketing company in which part of the profits come from signing on new distributors. What I also found is that the Shaklee products are supposed to be environmentally friendly and chemical-free.  There are many people who use Shaklee products and love them. A few celebrities that endorse them are: Oprah and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Being the ultimate pessimist when it comes to product claims and celebrity endorsements, I still wasn’t satisfied. I proceeded to do some more research and found that Shaklee has been around for 50 years and puts a lot of research into each product. With that information under my belt I was willing to give their products a try.

Elizabeth’s package arrived a few days later and I opened it up to find a teeny tiny sample of Basic H2. At first, I thought, REALLY?! She couldn’t have sent me any more?

But then I read the directions:

"Inside this tiny capsule is enough power to make a whole bottle of all-purpose super cleaner and another whole bottle of glass cleaner..."

Come on. Seriously?! Again, I was skeptical, how could that tiny vial make two bottles of cleaner? But, I gave it a try. I mixed up the one bottle of glass cleaner (2 drops to 16 oz. water). Then eye-balled a little more than 1/4 tsp. into 26 oz. of water to make a bottle of all-purpose cleaner.

My assistant, just think of him as a mini Vanna White. Wait, he kind of looks like Billy Mays (the Oxi-clean guy) doesn't he?!.

Now, you should know that while I was downstairs mixing my Shaklee potions, my boys were being suspiciously quiet upstairs. So, I headed up to see what those {umm-yeah}…sweet  little angels were up to. I should have known better!

Toothpaste smeared on the vanity top

Water splashed all over the mirror.

This was the perfect opportunity to try out my newly mixed Basic H2 concoctions. “Let’s see if you can handle this mess, Shaklee!”

First I sprayed the glass and let it sit for a minute while I sprayed down the sink and vanity top.

Then I went back to the mirror and was thoroughly amazed that the glass cleaner (remember only 2 drops and 16 oz. of water) worked on the smeared toothpaste and who knows what else. And the most perfect sound was emitted from my rag as it swiped the mirror. A very loud squeaky sound. It truly was squeaky clean!

Next I wiped off the vanity top and sink. Truth be told, I had to spray and wipe the goopey toothpaste trails twice, but they came clean.

And it cleaned everything else in the bathroom, spic and span.

Later that week Elizabeth emailed me to ask if I received the Basic H2 and how I liked it. I told her I thought they worked great, but I was missing my old cleaner’s lemony scent. Here was her reply:

“I am glad the cleaners worked well. If you are missing the “clean” scent, why not try adding a drop or two of essential oils to the cleaning mix like I do? If you really think about it.. CLEAN doesn’t have any smell.. right? haha There are Basic H products with regular scent. The one I sent you is fragrance free.”

Well, she has a point there doesn’t she? But, I couldn’t go fragrance-free (after all I do have two stinky boys and a dog ;-D), so I added a few drops of essential Lavendar oil to the all-purpose cleaner and have been happily spraying calming lavender all week!

Next I put the glass cleaner to another test. I wear glasses, mostly just for driving and watching movies. But, I’m finding as I am heading (at super-sonic speed) towards my 4oth birthday, I’ve needed to wear my glasses more often especially while staring at the computer screen. Therefore, my specs have been getting dirty faster. I have an anti-reflective coating on them, and anyone that knows about anti-reflective coatings know that you can’t just wipe your glasses on your shirt. You have to use a special cleaner and/or cleaning cloth to get them really clean and so as not to scratch them. Well, I decided to try the Shaklee Basic H2 glass cleaner  on them (I was a little nervous, but seeing as I had already scratched my glasses slightly a few years ago, I really didn’t care.) Okay, I need to be truthful here, I was thinking “If I scratch this pair up beyond repair, then I can get a new pair that much sooner.”  Shhhhh, don’t tell Pretty Handsome Guy!
So, I took my smudged glasses and sprayed the Basic H2 glass cleaner on both lenses on both sides. Then I used a brillo pad (Just Kidding!)
Seriously, I used a soft cloth to wipe them clean.
Sparkly clean! (Except the tiny scratches that have been there for years.)
So, here is my overall take on the Shaklee Basic H2 Cleaner:
  • Do I think the product works? Yup!
  • Does it work better than my regular cleaners? No, but they do work as well as my cleaners.
  • Are they healthier and more environmentally friendly than the products I’ve been using? I believe so, and I think they are healthier to use in our home and especially around the kitchen where I have a fruit bowl and unfinished water glasses sitting around all the time.
  • Is the Shaklee Basic H2 Cleaner expensive? NO! At first look, you might think at $12 for a 16 oz. bottle of the Basic H2 Cleaner, that is expensive. However, if I tell you how much of that little  .07 fl. oz sample vial I used you will see that $12 for a 16 oz. bottle is a deal compared to the cost of buying average cleaners:
I used roughly .05 oz. (really I used less than that, but just for easy math work with m.)  of the .07 oz. vial to make 1- 16 oz. bottle of glass cleaner and 1- 26 oz. bottle of all purpose cleaner!     Are you ready for this…
…based on my math (and you may want to double check) I’d be able to make 320 bottles of glass cleaner, plus 320 bottles of all purpose cleaner with ONE bottle of the Super Basic H2 Concentrated cleaner. GTFO!!!  That is 640 bottles of cleaner in that little 16 oz. bottle of Basic H2 concentrate! To purchase that much of my regular cleaners, I would pay $2,336 for 320 bottles of glass and 230 bottles of all purpose cleaners. And, I don’t even want to think about all that plastic that goes into the landfill!
Thanks for sticking with me, because I have some great news. I have a Get Clean Mini Household Starter Kit to offer to one of my lucky readers!

And, Elizabeth will be offering 5 additional readers their own sample of the Basic H2 Cleaning Concentrate (so you can be Wow’ed too!)

The Get Clean Household Mini Kit contains (More Info):
  • Basic H2® Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate, 16 oz.
  • (1)Basic H2® Wipes (35 count)
  • Germ Off Wipes (35 count)
  • Scour Off
  • MeasuringSpoon
  • Dropper Pipette
  • Spray Bottles (3-pack)

Okay, now that all my alarm bells have been silenced, I’m off to order a bottle of the Basic H2 cleaner, some Scour Off (which Sarah, aka Thrifty Decor Chick, really likes) and some of those cute spray bottles.

Rules to Enter the Giveaway:

  • What about you? Can you find a Shaklee product that you’d use from Elizabeth’s Shaklee site? Or do you already use a Shaklee product that you love? Please leave me a comment and tell me more about it to enter to win.
  • Then for an additional chances to win, tweet about this giveaway (and leave a comment that you did.)
  • And mention the giveaway on Facebook (and leave a comment again.)

A winner will be picked with the always eager assistance of Random.org at midnight on Saturday, April 2nd.

Disclosure: This post was an unpaid product review, however in full disclosure, I wanted to tell you that Elizabeth purchased advertising for three months and paid to have a product giveaway on my blog. BUT, I can honestly say (and sleep well at night) that the review was my honest opinion about the Shaklee Basic H2 product and I was not swayed by her payment for advertising, etc. You should know that If I don’t like a product, I will not write a review. Plus, I will offer to return any money that has been paid towards advertising,etc. Fair enough? I hope you also realize, that I value my readers’ time and intelligence, and I would never intentionally steer you wrong. If you would like to be bored by more information about product reviews and advertising, you can read more HERE.

Okay, so feel free to go slam me in the comment section (and then you will be entered to win the giveaway, HA!)

Coming up this week…I’ve gone Forkin’ crazy and am using flatware in all my projects!

 

Help! Dropped a Pin Down the Drain (You CAN Get It Back!)

PinSweater

While I was working on my Goodwill sweater, I accidentally dropped one of the pins down the drain. Now, I could have just left it there, but my “Ms. Fix-It” brain knew that I couldn’t do that. If I left it, I would be dealing with a clogged drain in a month since it would trap all kinds of hair and unmentionable gunk. So, I did the “right” thing and set about retrieving it myself. (And, blogging about it so you know what to do as well.)

IMPORTANT! If you do happen to drop anything down the drain, turn off the water IMMEDIATELY! You don’t want the water to wash the item beyond the drain, because then it is gone forever (unless you want to explore your city sewer lines.)

Tools:

Channel Lock Style Wrench/Pliers
Basin
Rubber Gloves

 

1. Put on your rubber gloves (who knows what’s hiding in your drain!)

2. Set the basin under your sink’s P-trap.

3. Then grab some channel lock type pliers. Irwin recently sent me this quick release hex shaped groove-lock pliers that are a snap to open and close the jaws. Just push the button, slide the handle up or down and release. Super quick and easy!

4. Loosen the lower slip nut ring.

Then slide it up to release one end of the P-trap.

5. Loosen the upper /upper slip nut ring (pay no attention to the slip nut I’m loosening, I actually had to loosen the one above it to free my P-trap.)

6. Then pull down on the P-trap to remove it (you will see in this picture that I had loosened the slip nut higher up to release the drain assembly.) Ewww, gross, don’t look at that string of hair hanging from the drain.


7. (Here comes the next disgusting part.) Turn your P-trap upside down to empty the contents into the basin. Oh and be sure you are wearing your rubber gloves (do as I say, not as I do!)

8. Remove your object. Luckily my pin fell out immediately. If your drain is really gunked up, you may need to run some water or use an old bottle brush to clean out the P-trap and release your object from the yuckiness. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to clean it out anyway while you have it off (if you can stomach it.)

9. Reverse the steps to re-assemble the P-trap. With plumbing I usually hand tighten the nuts and then use the pliers to give it an extra 1/4 turn (but I’m a weakling. If you battle me in arm wrestling YOU WILL WIN!)

10. When your spouse comes home, brag about how you retrieved something from the drain all by yourself!

Coming up next week, another giveaway! What, so soon? Well, Elizabeth contacted me and wants to reward one of my lucky readers. Thanks Elizabeth!

Sharing this tutorial at:The Lettered Cottage

A New Venture – Parentables

Parentables

It is time to make a big announcement, do you have your horns and confetti ready?

I’ve been writing for Parentables which was just launched by the TLC television network. Parent-a-who? Parentables, it is a really cool new site that is full of posts from some truly awesome contributing writings (other bloggers that rock). And they are all geared towards you, the CHO (Chief Household Officer)! Whether you have kids or not, Parentables is a great location to learn and share information. There are articles on cooking, organizing your home, great vacations, home décor, craft, celebrity gossip and of course DIY projects! Want to learn more? Head on over to Parentables, “Like” them on Facebook, or “Follow” them on Twitter.

So, what does this means for you, the Pretty Handy Girl reader? Not much, you will still get approximately 3-4 posts a week from me. However, if that isn’t enough for you, I will also be sharing a couple of extra posts a month over there! I’m also hoping it empowers a few more people to try their own DIY projects.  So, we may see a few more followers over here (I hope you will welcome them with open arms.)

In the meantime, I’ve posted some oldies and some goodies on Parentables, so check ‘em out:

How I Learned to Fix, Repair, and Build Almost Anything (and You Can, Too!)

Reupholster dining chairs

How to Reupholster a Dining Chair (Even if You’re a Beginner)

Glass Magnets

How to Make DIY Glass Bead Magnets with Kids

mulch stone path

How to Build an Easy Mulch-and-Stone Pathway

How to Remove a Broken Bulb Safely

Essential Tools To Build Out Your Toolbox

On a side note, did anyone catch a peek at the Supermoon the other night? I brought the kids with me to the highest hill in Raleigh and we got to see it. Then I took a bunch of photos with my camera on the tripod sticking out the moonroof of my car. I’m sure I got some laughs from puzzled drivers. But, hey, what can I say, I’m crazy like that. Here is the best picture I got, it is kind of fuzzy because of the cloud cover:

Super “Cool” Moon

And in this corner we have an Irwin 15″ Universal Handsaw…

Handsaws

While sanding down my garden bench, I decided to make a design change. I chose to saw off the ball finial posts that are at the end of the armrests. I felt they were too tall and since I’m moving my bench onto our screen porch I didn’t want them obstructing the view if I was sitting with friends and chatting. So, I decided “Off with their heads!”

It was also the perfect opportunity to try out a new handsaw that Irwin sent me to test. They claimed that it is up to 3x faster than a traditional handsaw. Honestly I didn’t believe the claim. I mean – come on – a handsaw is a handsaw.

So, I decided to put their claim to the test with a good old fashioned match up.

The competition:
In this corner we have the challenger: the 15″ Irwin Universal Handsaw.

And the reining champion in this corner is my trusty handsaw.

Let me back up and tell you that I have a like/hate relationship with that traditional handsaw. I bought it a long time ago before I could afford a compound miter saw (power tool). So, I bought an el cheapo plastic miter box to use with it when I wanted to cut perfect angles. It took me about a dozen times before I learned how to properly use the hand saw. The key is to let the saw do the sawing (well, duh, right?!) Trust me, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It is so tempting to press into the wood. But, if you put any force or pressure on the saw, it will skip and bind. Instead you have to gently push and pull the saw back and forth a gazillion times until the saw works its way through the wood. It can be  a brutally slow process.

So, back to the match up. I started with my traditional handsaw and started the timer.

About halfway through I had to take a break (and a picture). I gulped down some more coffee and continued sawing. (I stopped the clock at 1:15:20 when I took a break and restarted it when I began sawing again.)

Finally at 2 minutes and 32 seconds the ball finial met it’s demise and toppled to the ground. I wanted to topple down with it, exhausted.

I resisted the urge to go grab one of my power tools for the other side, but instead picked up the Irwin Universal Handsaw.

The angled handle felt a little strange in my hand (not bad, just different from the traditional one I was used to.)

I set the blade against the base of the post and began to saw. It cut through the wood easily and within 32 seconds it had lopped of the head of the other post. I was amazed. I double checked my timer, but it was working. Only 32 seconds and I was barely breathing heavy!

AND THE WINNER IS:

The Irwin 15″ Universal Handsaw by a longshot!

Here are a few details about the saw: It has a triple-ground tooth design, I’m guessing this has something to do with its speed. And the unique angled handle combined with the tooth design is supposed to eliminate binding. I had no binding, so it appears to work.

There are 45º and 90º angle markers built into the blade. I’m not sure that I would use them instead of my carpenter’s square, but I suppose they are convenient to have in a pinch. With a retail price of $18.99, the 15″ Irwin Universal Handsaw is a great and economic addition to your toolbox. (Especially if you can’t afford a power miter saw).

I’ve decided to send my traditional handsaw packing to make room for the Irwin Universal handsaw in my toolbox. Anyone want a gently used traditional handsaw for cheap?

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. I was sent the Irwin Handsaw at no charge, but the opinions and testing were my own and were not influenced by Irwin or anyone else. For more information you can view my disclosure statement HERE.

Thanks for the Laughs, SkyMall

SitnStroll

Today I am going to deviate from my usual tutorial posts. If you came over for your DIY fix, you can see my post on re-upholstering a $5 yard sale chair on Time 2 Save Workshops HERE.

But, if you really need a good laugh today (like I do), please continue reading.

On our flight to Florida I found myself captivated by the Skymall catalog. Some of the products had me laughing out loud. I knew I had to share some of these fabulously silly products with y’all.

<<Ding Dong>>

Pretty Handsome Guy: “Honey, can you get the door?”

Me: “Oh, it is just Buddy..”

PHGuy: “Why is Buddy ringing the doorbell.”

Me: “Because he wants to go out.”

A week later…

<<Ding Dong>>

PHGuy: “Oh for Pete’s sake. Does that dog really want to out again? He rings that doorbell every 5 minutes.

Me: “I’ll let him out in a few minutes.”

<<Ding Dong>>

<<Ding Dong>>

<<Ding Dong>>

<<Ding Dong>>

<<Ding Dong>>

Me: “Oh no! It really was the doorbell. It was a Girl Scout with my cookies. Come Back!!!”

 

 

Guess what! You don’t have to hide the litter box anymore! Oh happy day…instead you can put this <<ahem>> attractive planter with a gigantic hole in it in your living room!
In fact, you can put it front and center in your room and use it as one gigantic focal point. I have to call Erin at Two Story Cottage about this. There must be some rule against focal points that are just plain U-G-L-Y!

 

Peek-a-boo! Speaking of wrong, this product photo just creeps me out. Is that a lady climbing out of an under the bed storage box? Or is she a zombie coming out of a coffin.

 

 

Pretty Handsome Guy: “Hi, honey I’m home. Oh no, rough day?”

Me: “What? Why do you ask?”

PHGuy: “Oh no reason, do you have a headache?”

Me: “Why yes, how did you know?”

PHGuy: “I think it was the steel brain-sucker thingy resting on your head that tipped me off.”

 

 

So, you finally planned a get-a-way to the beach. But, when you get there you have to put down this gigantic mat to protect you from the (horror of all horrors!) sand. Ummm, okay. So, why did you go to the beach?

 

 

Helen goes to the beauty parlor every week to get her hair set. One thing she never leaves home without is her Sit-n-Stroll. Isn’t that smart? She can work out and exercise while sitting under the dryer. She is so thrilled with herself that she just ignores Eunice who is LAUGHING her curls off looking at Helen!”

I have to admit, that Sit-N-Stroll is tempting. Do you think it could help me lose that blogger bloat! Afterall, it counts calories, time, steps and much more! (Wonder if it has a blog post word count tracker  and Tweet Deck installed?)

 

 

I get the concept, but I want to know, who awarded this product something and what was the award for?
“And the best way to train your cat to use the toilet award goes to………”

What do you tell your guests when they want to use the toilet and your cat is already using it?
Me: “Sorry, you’ll have to wait a minute. Felix is in there. Oh, and don’t mind the claw marks on the toilet paper. Sometimes he uses it as a scratching post.”

 

 

I am definitely one who appreciates the freedom of hands-free. That is why I loved my baby carriers when my boys were babies. But, this just looks ridiculous. Tell me you wouldn’t bust out laughing if you saw someone wearing this at the airport?! The “Helpy” looks like a suitcase bra to me. And what happens when she is rushing to catch her connecting flight and stops short? <<Guffaw, snort, snort!>> I’m just laughing thinking about it.

 

This faux birdhouse may reduce the noise of your dog barking. But, the birds will be squawking up a racket trying to get into this birdhouse.

That is just plain cruelty to birds!

 

 

Dude, if you think putting this thing on your head every night is going to restore your confidence, you better think again. Can’t you just see the ribbing he’d get from his friends when they came over to watch football with him?

Then again, who knows, maybe it would turn into an i-Restore party for men. “Brent, Dude, pass the i-Restore! You’re hogging it.” ” Ooo, I can really feel it working. Mark, Dude, you gotta try this.”

 

 

Now, I bring you some fabulous home décor products that you must have in your home!

This life sized “Mademoiselle” Lamp will be sure to turn heads, (if it doesn’t scare the you-know-what out of you every time you go downstairs in the middle of the night.)

The next morning:

Me: “Honey, why does our “Mademoiselle” Lamp look – errrr – beat up?”

Pretty Handsome Guy: “You’d knock her head off too if she tried to attack you in the middle of the night!”

 

 

Okay, so the lady lamp wasn’t quite your style. Well,  how about this lovely lawn statue:

The good thing about this sculpture is that my neighbor’s dogs or cats would no longer roam in my yard. Then again, I don’t think we could ever get Buddy out in the yard to do his business again. Hmmm, might have to skip this one.

 

 

I saved the best for last…Introducing Sperm Shoes!!! And LOOK! They even explain the rationale behind their logo: “Slick Seed of Life Logo – Because it’s cool!” That was some sales pitch!

 

Have low sperm count? Wear these shoes!

Are you pregnant but can’t share the news yet? Wear sperm shoes and keep ‘em guessing.

 

Disclaimer: I was not paid by SkyMall to share these products with you. I don’t get a commission if you buy them. In fact, their lawyers are probably drawing up a cease and desist letter right now, asking me to delete this post. So enjoy it while it lasts!

Fork Photo Holder Base

PhotoHolderFull

Hey ho, what do you know?! I know that there is an exciting tutorial waiting for you over at my friend Gina’s who writes The Shabby Chic Cottage! Wanna see?

Here it is!

Fork Photo Holder

Fork Photo Holder

I am guest posting over there today. I hope you enjoy the tutorial.

I did want to share with you how to make an alternate base for that Fork Photo Holder. So, if you will give me a few minutes, I’ll show you how to do that.

Materials:
Fork (.25 each from Goodwill)
Wooden base from craft store (cost me .69 each)
Beads, corks, or other items to thread onto the base of your wire (corks were free, beads I had on hand)
Scrapbook paper
Mod Podge
Multi-Purpose Utility Wire 16 Gauge ($7.99 for a huge roll of it, I only used a few inches per project)
Wire cutters
Needle-nosed pliers
E-6000 glue
Felt
Drill with 1/16″ drill bit

 

Instructions:

Start by sanding any rough edges off your wooden base. Then prime and paint them.

Measure and mark the center of your wooden base.

Using your 1/16″ drill bit, drill through your base (be sure to put a piece of scrap wood underneath to avoid drilling into your table, etc.)

Lay a piece of scrapbook paper on top of the base and use your finger to score around the edges of the base.

Cut out the shape scored on the scrapbook paper.

Using mod podge, brush one coat onto the top of the wooden base. Lay your scrapbook paper cutout onto the base and follow up with another coat of the mod podge to seal the paper to the base.

Assemble your fork onto the wire as shown HERE.

Thread on your beads for the base. (Alternatively, you can use a wine cork or a solid end bead and drill a hole through them.)

Then dip the end of your wire into the E-6000.

And insert it into the base. Some of the glue should squeeze out of the base. You can use the excess glue to adhere the beads to the base. (Yes, you should wear gloves when working with E-6000 glue. Do as I say, not as I do!)

Protect your table with newspaper, craft paper, or wax paper while the glue dries.

Using a sliver of soap, draw around the base of your photo holder onto the felt.

Cut the felt slightly smaller than the traced shape.

Use a little E-6000 to glue the felt to the bottom of the base. Let it dry on wax paper (I use old cereal bags because they were free and I like to recycle.)

And you are done!

I raided my neighbor’s recycling bin for that beautiful cobalt blue wine bottle. It works well as a base too! Don’t you think it would be a cute place to hold “Today’s Specials” at a restaurant? Or a reminder note. Or just a beloved photo.

What would you use one of my fork photo holders for?

PHGFancySign

Miss Safe-T DIY 2011

RunwayQueen

This weekend I’m competing in the Ms. Safe-T DIY Pageant for 2011. What? You never heard of it? Well, let me tell you the competition is fierce. I’m up against 7 other beautifully safe women for the title.

The final 8 contestants are (click on their photos to view their Safe-T profiles):

Sandra from Sawdust and Paper Scraps

Michelle from Dream Home DIY

Katy from Mom and Her Drill

Erin from Erin's Creative Energy

Tanja from Postmodern Hostess

Jaime from That's My Letter

Pink Toes and Power Tools

And of course, there is me! Don’t you think I nailed the runway walk? I’m a muddy shoe-in to win! (Snort, snort, I crack myself up.)

Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl

In all seriousness, Sandra is hosting the Strut Your Safety Gear Link Party to get the word out about wearing the appropriate safety gear when working on your DIY project. And if you hop to it and comment by Sunday night (tonight) you can enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Whoo-weee.

Today, I geared up to scrape and sand my garden bench. Sadly the paint didn’t weather the year in the rain, sleet and snow. The bench is still structurally sound, so I’m going to repaint it (the right way) and and share with you the details at a later date.

I needed to use my power sander, so I pulled my hair back and put in my ear plugs.

99% of the time, when I’m working on a DIY project, I put on my paint spattered shirt and ripped blue jeans. The 1% of the time that I don’t do that I end up ruining those clothes. Safety goggles are a must when working with any power tool. (I just ordered some new molded goggles that seal on your face to help keep the dust out next time. Sandra turned me on to them HERE!)

Sanding is a messy job. It is a good idea to tarp anything you don’t want covered in sawdust. The particles go EVERYWHERE. That is why it is important to wear a dust mask and gloves.

The gloves also keep my hands from getting rough.

And finally, I wear closed toe shoes to protect my piggy wigglies from a dropped power sander. OUCH!

Be sure to wear appropriate safety gear next time you take on your own DIY project. Check out Sandra’s post for more information on safety gear HERE! She even gives you the links to purchase your own. Now that is my kind of shopping!

Teacher Appreciation Gifts

PunchHole

Every year my son’s elementary school has a staff and teacher appreciation week. It sneaks up on me and catches me off-guard (every year!) I REALLY appreciate those men and women who give their time and patience to my child and the other kids in the school. So, I want to make sure I give them something a little different than a card (not that a card isn’t a nice gesture though.)

This year, I spotted some glass votive holders at Goodwill (my latest free time hangout location), and knew I could do something special with them.

Then while doing laundry I found myself staring at the succulent plant that I had received from FreeCycle.org. I had been neglecting it for a while and yet it still continued to thrive. Eureka! I had my gift idea!

Materials:
Plant
Decorative plant rocks
Potting soil
Glass votive holders
Raffia
Cardstock paper
Spoon
Water

Start by filling the bottom 1/3 – 1/2 of the votive holder with the decorative rocks.

Spoon soil on top of the rocks.

Set the plant into the soil and fill in any bare spots with soil. Water the plant until the rocks are underwater, but not the soil.

Print out the gift tags  (Download my tags for free HERE!) and cut them out.

Punch a hole in the top.

Tie a string of raffia loosely around the plant and attach the tag.

Deliver to school with a big thank you and an “I appreciate you” smile!

So, tell me, if you were a teacher, would you appreciate this? Or is this just another tchotchke collecting dust on your desk?

Inspired by Spring Flowers

BirdhouseDaphne

Oh happy day! My spirits are being lifted by the showy flowers that are blooming outside my window. This post is for those of you that are still suffering through this brutal winter. My thoughts are with you often, and I hope these colors help brighten your day and let you know that Spring is on its way.

So, grab a warm drink or blanket and sit back for a few minutes of buds, blossoms and blooms.


 

When there is so much colorful artistry outside, I couldn’t help bringing a few inside.

I wish you had smell-o-vision. Those little white flowers on the left are called Daphne, and they have the most fragrantly sweet lemon scent.

I’m going to try to root some Daphne shortly after the flowers fade. Apparently that is the best time to snip them, add some rooting hormone, and stick them in a pot. Wish me luck!

I found this decanter set at Goodwill last week and they are the perfect size to hold a few daffodils at our table.

Does anyone else’s child have Staff & Teacher appreciation week coming up? Ours is this week, and I found an economical solution for the multitude of gifts I needed for each teacher, office staff, bus driver, etc. I’ll be sharing that with you later this week!

Inserting Spring into My Wreath

TieWire

Have you been following me for a while? Do you remember this base wreath (below) that I bought from Target a while ago?

I challenged myself to use this wreath through every season for one year. Well, I’m now about 6 months in and I have given this wreath its fourth transformation. I injected some pretty yellow paper flowers into the wreath to greet the budding flowers and trees outside my window.

From Christmas – Valentine’s Day our wreath was red, white and green:

For Thanksgiving, I added some feathers to the wreath:

For fall, I simply inserted magnolia leaves into the wreath:

 

Here is My Tutorial for a Spring Paper Flower Wreath:

Materials:

  • Two coordinating scrapbook paper sheets
  • Buttons for flower centers
  • Scissors
  • Wire cutters
  • Floral Wire

Begin by cutting out flower shapes.

Lay your flower on top of the coordinating paper and cut a flower shape larger than the first.

Lay both flowers on top of one another and cut slits in toward the center of your flowers. Be sure not to cut too close to the center.

Trim the edges of your petals if you need to round them more.

Fold the edges of your flowers up to give them dimension.

Cut a length of floral wires, long enough to wrap around your wreath.

Thread the wire through your button. If you have a four hole button, you may want to thread it like this:

Then poke the wires through the centers of the flowers (it is easiest if you have one on top of the other so you are going through two flowers at once.)

Set the flower on your wreath.

Wrap the wires around the back and twist to secure.

Repeat until you have as many flowers as you like. Then add a coordinating ribbon bow.

I am definitely ready for spring, how about you? I hear my good friend Sandra (aka Sawdust Girl) just had more snow near Chicago. Poor girl.

Lucky for us, there are random pops of color blooming down here in North Carolina! Here is a sneak peek at a budding magnolia tree. I’ll share some more Spring color with you later this week.

Speaking of Spring, it is time to change our clocks forward one hour this weekend (if you do that kind of thing.)

Sharing this tutorial at:Visit thecsiproject.com

No Solicitors Sign

FrontDoorView


We live on a quiet cul-de-sac in a quiet neighborhood in Raleigh. Things are usually peaceful, but every so often my son’s peaceful naps were interrupted by: DING DONG! And when I answered the door, this is who greeted me.

ARRGGGHHH!

I finally decided to halt the door-to-door salespeople in their tracks. Especially after a neighbor informed me that sometimes these so-called salespeople aren’t actually selling anything. There have been a few incidents of burglary in our neighborhood, and one of the burglars had actually knocked on doors the day before. Apparently he was casing the home to see what homes were empty at what times. And hoping to peek inside and see if there were any valuable items inside. Scary! Especially when I’m home alone with the little ones. So, this got me thinking.

Next time I was at Goodwill, I searched for two small picture frames.  The frames I bought were in good shape, but I added some new paint and glaze to give them a freshened up look.

Then I printed out a simple message on decorative paper and inserted it into the frames.

I definitely don't want to turn away those little munchkins that might be selling something sweet to eat!

I hung one sign by our side door.

And put a second one inside the storm door of our front door.

I can honestly say that we have not had a single unwanted salesperson knock or ring our doorbell since I hung the signs.

I’m not the only one who can’t stand solicitors, Becca from Blue Cricket Design cut some vinyl for her side light by her front door. I can’t help but smile everytime I see it. ;-)

Blue Cricket Design's Sign

Want your own No Solicitor Sign? I’m sharing mine with you HERE!

Shuttle Discovery STS-133 Launch – Feb. 24, 2011

February 24th 2011 - Space Shuttle Discovery's Last Flight

Last week we were in Orlando, Fl for a little vacation. While there we celebrated Pretty Handsome Guy’s birthday, went to Disney World – but best of all we witnessed a moment in history!

February 24th 2011 - Space Shuttle Discovery's Last Flight

On Thursday, February 24th, 2011, we watched one of the last Space Shuttle launches. NASA has canceled the Space Shuttle program and it is uncertain what, if any, future shuttle launches will happen. Part of this is due to NASA budget constraints. That plus, the International Space Station is essentially complete. You can read more about the mandatory retirement of the Space Shuttle program HERE.

Pretty Handsome Guy had been following tweets from NASA and scouring message boards to plan our trip. He strategized about the best location to view the shuttle launch. So, Thursday began with us eating breakfast and then driving about an hour due east to Titusville, FL.

This way to Titusville, FL

We headed to a location called Space View park where it was claimed to have the best public viewing of the shuttle launches. The park sits 12 miles across the water from the launch pad. Public viewing is not permitted any closer than 10 miles of the shuttle launch. So, tens of thousands of people line the banks and beaches across from the shuttle.

People began staking claim to spots at 6:30 am

We arrived about 9:45am and staked out our small 7′ square spot in the dirt amongst a sea of people, some whom had been there since 6:30am! The shuttle is barely visible as a small tower in the hazy distance. But, the view is unobstructed.

An unobstructed view of the shuttle as it waits on the launch pad.

Frank and John, two grandfathers from New York, graciously let us squeeze in front of them. The next several hours proved a real joy and treat as we talked to them and got to know them better. John told us stories of his days as a fireman. And Frank shared his joys as an active grandfather who watches his grandchild a few days a week.

Throughout the day Pretty Handsome Guy and I took turns rushing our boys to the bathroom (which consisted of long lines for two port-o-potties.) Pretty Handsome Guy also spent a lot of time playing ball, and going on excursions with the boys trying to keep them entertained until the scheduled launch window around 4:45pm. I don’t think I need to tell you that keeping two boys entertained in a 7′ square space for 7 hours was challenging to say the least.

A retired NASA official broad-casted information as they received it over the loudspeaker at the park. And sold pamphlets with information about the launch.

These six astronauts were scheduled to board the Space Shuttle Discovery for its final launch:

Pictured are NASA astronauts Steve Lindsey (center right) and Eric Boe (center left), commander and pilot, respectively; along with astronauts (from the left) Alvin Drew, Nicole Stott, Michael Barratt and Steve Bowen, all mission specialists.

A few factoids about this mission.

This mission has been trying to take off since November. Several incidents have kept it grounded. Plus, two tragedies have befallen two of the crew members. Tim Kopra, was injured in a bicycle accident in January and had to be replaced by Scott Bowen. Commander Mark Kelly, as some of you may know, is Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, and therefore was taken off this mission and is currently scheduled to command the STS-134 launch of Space Shuttle Endeavor.

Here are a few interesting factoids about the Space Shuttle Discovery. It flew 38 missions before this launch, more than any other space shuttle. Discovery assembly began in 1979 and was completed in 1983. Space Shuttle Discovery helped launch the Hubble space telescope. And was also the Shuttle that carried Senator John Glenn on his mission as the oldest astronaut to fly in space.

About 4 hours before the scheduled lauch, a group of “Titusville” Police officers began wandering through the crowds. I  don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen small town police officers toting assault rifles, wearing earpieces and sporting bulletproof vests on the outside of their camo suits. Their presence brought both comfort and fear to me. (I think the fear stems from growing up Quaker and not ever seeing a gun closer than on a policeman’s hip. And certainly NEVER a gun bigger than a pistol!)

Not the usual small town police officers. At least they were happy!

Photographers set up tripods, ladders and took meter readings. I saw zoom lenses that looked like they belonged to National Geographic commissioned photographers.

Expensive cameras were everywhere.

A constant stream of people continued to show up and look for prime locations for viewing. Land space became a premium and soon every square inch of space was occupied around us. The exit ramp across the inlet from us was packed with people.

Exit ramp jammed with people

This boy staked out his viewing spot in a tree when there wasn’t a blade of grass left to stand on.

Prime viewing location

As the hours ticked by, tensions mounted as announcements spread like waves over the crowd. “There is a problem with one of the tiles around the hatch. Technicians are checking on it.” After about 45 minutes of nail biting, the tile was deemed acceptable for launch. PHEW!

If the launch is “scrubbed”, they will either delay it 24 hours for the following day (because there is only a 10 minute window for the shuttle to launch which will allow it to meet the International Space Station. If you want more information as to how this window is calculated, read THIS!) Worst case scenarios would be if a problem occurred that could require the launch to be delayed days, weeks or months. Ugh! Frank & John had been unlucky enough to have sat through such a scenario back in November.  I hoped, prayed, crossed my fingers and toes hoping that we would be able to witness the launch on this day – the day my husband turned 40! (How special!) And that the launch wouldn’t be delayed 24 hours until the next window of opportunity. I don’t know how we would have entertained our boys for another whole day in a 7′ square spot in the crowd.

As the afternoon wore on, the sun slid across the sky. Elation was evident as we got closer and closer to the launch window. Then 30 minutes before the launch we heard over the loud speaker that there was a problem with one of the computers in Houston, TX. “Houston, we have a problem!” We all held our breath. 20 minutes, “Still trying to resolve the computer issue in Houston.” Ten minutes, “Still no word from Houston on the computer issue.” Five minutes, ” Houston is still working on the computer issue.” We were all silent and holding our breath. A few jokes passed about re-booting the computer, un-plugging and re-plugging it in. One minute later, “We received word that everything is a go!” A loud cheer roared through the crowd of over 5,000 people at just our little park!

We rushed to put our kids on the folding chairs so they had the best view and jockeyed for position to see the shuttle take off.

A big plume of white smoke appeared below the space shuttle Discovery, and the countdown began:

Ten…nine…eight…seven…six…five…four…three…two..one…BLAST OFF! A HUGE orange flame visible from 12 miles away across the river where we sat appeared at the base of the shuttle. We watched it slowly (slower than I thought was possible for a rocket propelled object) ascend straight into the sky.

It arched gracefully to the left. I prayed that the shuttle would continue on its predicted course and not repeat the ill-fated Launch of the Challenger, which I watched on TV as a teenager while babysitting two boys about the same age as my sons. (I was at a total loss of how to explain the explosion to them, as I would be today to my own children.)

 

Space Shuttle Discovery's successful launch.

Then the most amazing thing happened, 1 minute and 15 seconds into the flight, a roar came rushing across the water towards us. It was like a low rumble. The sound had finally traveled the distance across the water to where we stood. It had been rumored that we could feel the ground shake. We didn’t, but my legs were VERY shaky as I realized how important a day in history this was for our nation and for my family.

I alternated between looking up in the sky and taking pictures. I watched as the shiny glint in the sky separated into three objects when the shuttle’s rockets detached.

Booster rockets disengaging

We stood there a long time until the shuttle was a mere speck in the sky. The excitement and elation in the crowd was wonderful. I said a silent farewell to Discovery on its final flight before retirement and wished its crew godspeed and a safe return home to their families.

What was amazing to me is that we had sat for 7 hours with a crowd of people who were all polite and happy to be amidst perfect strangers. We were all there for one reason and we had been rewarded with a sight that our children’s grandchildren may never see.

Vapor plume after launch

I hope that my nearly 7 year old son remembers this day and tells his children and grandchildren. And hopefully our 4.5 year old will remember enough to have his memory enhanced by his brother’s stories to tell his offspring as well.

What a day! Watching Discovery Launch on Pretty Handsome Guy's Birthday.

There are two more shuttle launches planned before the Space Shuttle program is finished forever. Should you have any desire to see one of the launches, I urge you to make your plans and head to Florida. More information on the remaining two Shuttle launches (STS-134 and STS 135) can be found HERE.

Congratulations! We have ourselves a winner…

…and her name is Ali.

And this is her home!

Seriously! Isn’t that a gorgeous house? I am so jealous, I might just have to revise the “Pretty Handy Girl in a Box” to include me in that box!

I would think I died and went to heaven if I woke up to this view every morning:

AND, she has some beautiful Australian Shepherds (a breed close to my heart.) I bet my Buddy would love running around with this guy:

I spent some time on Ali’s blog just enjoying the view. She has a master bathroom makeover reveal soon. You should check out her blog: The Blessed Country Mom

So, now it is back to work for me. I’ll have another giveaway if I reach 2,000 followers. Stay tuned!