Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Sunflower Ghosts


Ok,  my hands are killing me, but I wanted this post done before Halloween’s over.  Here’s the Cliff Notes version:

Back in September, I covered my sunflowers with old white curtains to protect them from frost. My neighbor thought I was just decorating early for Halloween! Which was a great idea; I’d already tried coloring eyes and mouths with Sharpie but was a failure. I was muttering about the problem when Paul (aka Mr. Wonderful) suggested using fabric. “But it hurts to use scissors!” I whined. Then I remembered the cutting board and rotary cutter I invested in a few years when Cook got a quilt shop (Thanks again, Susan Covey of Cabin Quilting!)

Sewing hurts too, so Paul suggested fabric glue. Woohoo! We were business. I have almost no range of motion in my wrists lately, so he helped position the ghosts, too.  One of the best things about making Halloween decorations is that they don’t have to be perfect! Get a kid to help. Or someone with crappy range of motion. It could be therapeutic. 😀

sunflower ghosts-2 sunflower ghosts-3 sunflower ghosts-6 sunflower ghosts-7 Tadah!!

sunflower ghosts-14

Another Halloween craft project that’s fast, cheap, and easy. Like my sister. Just kidding! Please Pin, Like, Share, or comment this project, or better yet, do it yourself!

Werewolf Costume


A couple of years ago, youngest spawn was unexpectedly at my house for Halloween (it wasn’t my turn), without a costume. My sister came to the rescue and we took a quick trip to the closest store with costumes, 30 miles away. The plus side of shopping for a costume on the last day is that everything was on clearance, which worked great on the low-child-support budget! It felt so cheesy just grabbing something last-second, that I wanted to do something creative to the whole thing.

He chose a creepy werewolf mask and hands set that freaked me out. The clothing part of the costume was pretty cheesy so I got to thinking.

I wanted it to look like he was bursting out of his clothes, so we grabbed some jeans and a white button-down shirt from before the last growth spurt that were ridiculously small on him. Then came the hard part—talking him out of a toy that had similar coloring to the hair on the gloves and mask. No go.

Lucky for him, he has two older sisters, so I was holding out hope that I could find something…some doll or ratty stuffed animal no one would miss. I tore through boxes and totes from the basement to the attic, and the only thing I could find happened to be mine. Remember Beanie Babies? When the bottom dropped out of that market (thank you Ty, for flooding the market and thus reducing demand), Ty Co. created a line called Beanie Kids. They were homely yet cute in a Cabbage Patch kind of way. We ended up stuck with hundreds of the damn things, so I had one of each stuffed in a box in the attic.

beanie kids, halloween, costume, werewolf, mother of the year, diy, crafty mom,

When I got out the scissors, he bolted. When his sisters saw the remains they asked, “WTH happened here?”

after photo, nailed it, halloween, costume, mother of the year,

I TRY to be a good mother, honest I do.

 I scalped the dolls and sewed the pieces into holes we tore in his shirt and pants.

And he swears he wasn’t scarred from the experience since he didn’t have to watch me cut off the faces.

Phone-829

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Not bad for $10 and an hour of work!

Here are a few other posts you may like: Feel free to Like, Share, and Pin away!!

bat

Our Halloween Adventure

 

 

Halloween4 005

Dancing Ghost Bride Tutorial

 

wolf spider 001

Eight Great Uses for Plastic  Spiders

 

asparagus

Killer Asparagus

Tea With Auntie Linden


What, you don’t name your trees? This is one of our favorite trees. Mine (Laura) shades my whole front yard in the summer. Lois’ shades the old wood shed/ice house at Cook’s Country Connection. Listen, if Pocahontas could have Grandmother Willow, we can have an Auntie Linden. And like Grandmother Willow, the Auntie Linden in our yard has smacked a guy or three in the head. So shush.

Linden, Basswood, tea, make your own tea

The last time I read Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series, Ayla used Linden flowers to sweeten something. Finally! Something that grows in the near-arctic conditions of Cook, MN!! I searched Wikipedia to be sure it wasn’t just literary license, and discovered many other fun facts.

There is a Linden tree in Gloucestershire that is coppiced (omigod, I didn’t even know there was a word for that!! It means to harvest by cutting tree down to the stump, then letting its shoots start over. It’s technically the same tree) thought to be 2,000 years old. If you live up here, imagine a willow after attempted chainsawing.

coppice

Coppiced tree +1 year. Image Wikipedia.

The name of Linnaeus, the great botanist, was derived from a “lime” tree in Europe–what we Yanks call Basswood or Linden .

Linnaeus… You know, the guy who came up with a universal system for naming things. Binomial nomenclature. ie: Tilia americana. Ringin’ any bells??

There’s more.   “The excellence of the honey of far-famed Hyblaean Mountains was due to the linden trees that covered its sides and crowned its summit.” Beekeepers love Linden/Basswood/Lime trees! The first time I noticed a buzzing noise coming from the tree I park under (Auntie Linden), and looked up to see thousands of honeybees I called my sister in a panic. “Don’t come over!! You will DIE!!” (She’s allergic to bee or hornet stings.) She laughed and said ” They’re just doing what bees do. Leave them alone, and they’ll leave you alone. Just don’t piss ’em off.” Roger that.

July2013 069

I read on:

“In particular, aphids are attracted by the rich supply of sap, and are in turn often “farmed” by ants for the production of the sap which the ants collect for their own use, and the result can often be a dripping of excess sap onto the lower branches and leaves, and anything else below. Cars left under the trees can quickly become coated with a film of the syrup (“honeydew”) thus dropped from higher up. The ant/aphid “farming” process does not appear to cause any serious damage to the trees.”

Well, that’s pretty awesome… and it explains all the ants in that area. And it doesn’t hurt the trees! Huh. Here I was all worried that the ants were a sign that one of my favorite trees in all the world was sick. Whew!

It’s also good for making guitars, and even clothing. You can eat the young flowers and leaves, too!

Linden, Bassweed, tea, make your own linden tea

But coolest of all, it has medicinal properties that my body needs, like fighting inflammation and healing the liver.

“Most medicinal research has focused on Tilia cordata, although other species are also used medicinally and somewhat interchangeably. The dried flowers are mildly sweet and sticky, and the fruit is somewhat sweet and mucilaginous. Limeflower tea has a pleasing taste, due to the aromatic volatile oil found in the flowers. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes. Active ingredients in the Tilia flowers include flavonoids (which act as antioxidants) and volatile oils. The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent.

“Linden flowers are used in herbalism for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine), and as a diuretic (increases urine production), antispasmodic (reduces smooth muscle spasm along the digestive tract), and sedative. In the traditional Austrian medicine Tilia sp. flowers have been used internally as tea for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, fever and flu. New evidence shows that the flowers may be hepatoprotective. The wood is used for liver and gallbladder disorders and cellulitis (inflammation of the skin and surrounding soft tissue). That wood burned to charcoal is ingested to treat intestinal disorders and used topically to treat edema or infection such as cellulitis or ulcers of the lower leg.

Linden, Basswood, tea, make your own linden tea

Thus, last year I made tea from the flowers and the smaller leaves they were attached to. Honestly, I don’t know if it helped the Stupid Rheumatoid Arthritis. But I’m sure it didn’t hurt. 😉 And it tasted good. Want to make your own? Good. Here’s what I did:

  • when flowers are mostly open, gently pick them and the smaller leaf they are attached to from the bigger main leaves. This year, they are a month behind normal. Big surprise.
  • I spread them evenly on trays in my dehydrator and when crumbly I separated leaves from flowers and put them in old, airtight mason jars for winter.
  • Then, come January I added some Rugosa Rose hips for Vitamin C and voila! Yummy, healthy, tea for two.

Linden, basswood, lime tree, tea, arthritis, rosehip,

Linden, basswood, lime tree, tea, arthritis, rosehip,

As you can see, the tea has very little color to it. Go by taste- not color- to judge strength. 3 or 4 minutes should be fine for a cup to brew.

Linden, basswood, lime tree, tea, arthritis, rosehip,

You’re welcome.

As usual, if you liked this article, please click “Like” “Share” “Pin”, or leave a comment. Thank you for reading! Loveyabye!

 

 

 

Rainwater Collection System


More on The Sister in the Basement….  I cannot wait to water the gardens instead of shoveling snow!

Old World Garden Farms

Visitors to the farm are usually surprised to learn that we water the entire garden and landscape with reclaimed rain water. Our system, which collects and stores rainwater from our barn’s metal roof, provides 100% of our annual watering needs. The best part, it was extremely easy to install, and can be inexpensively adapted to almost any home, shed or roof with a gutter.

We spent the past week hooking our tanks back up from winter storage – and within 24 hours  – we had just over 150 gallons stored from a single rain.  It’s been over a year now since we first completed the rain collection system – and I honestly don’t know how we survived without it.

It gives us access to free water, and with our two plastic tote tanks, can collect as much as 550 gallons from a single downpour.  And that’s only using rain from…

View original post 814 more words

WWLD?


Every time I am stumped by something… whether it’s mechanical issues, gardening basics, general efficiency, or  plumbing-related, I pause and ask myself, “What would Lois do?” . (She worked in a small hardware store for years, and has an innate common sense that I lack.) Occasionally it works, and I can figure it out. Most of the time, though, I just call and ask.

Last Wednesday, it was plumbing. Water was dripping out of the bottom of my toilet tank. I tried to tighten the thingy that was leaking and the drip turned into a stream.

pooh

Think, think, think… WWLD??

I shut off the supply, emptied the tank the rest of the way with DBarn knockofff Sham-Wows, and sat back (cracking my noggin on the sink of course) to ponder some more. Then I called my bossy big sister, aka The Birthday Girl.

She let me talk it out and then told me what else commonly causes the same issue, so I could check for that before putting it all back together again.

I think everybody needs at least one “Lois” in their life… someone who can help reason things out. Do you have a Lois? Wanna borrow mine? 😉

Cabin Fever Cures


Friday and Saturday, the winter blues were encroaching. Then my friend Kelly sent me flowers at work to thank me for helping winter suck less. 🙂

winter bouquet

“Thank you for helping me embrace winter.”

AWWWWW! How sweet is that?? Thanks, Kelly! You brighten my winter, too. 🙂

The big gravel pit banks looked kind of intimidating to the 5  year-old, so I broke out the food coloring and some spray bottles. Also reeeeeeeally brightened up the winter landscape.

winter fun, snow art, food coloring, spray bottle

Water and food coloring in spray bottles.

food coloring, snow

Names in the snow. Hygienically.

I always wanted to write names in the snow...

I always wanted to write names in the snow…

Avi's Hippie Snowball

A psychedelic snowball!

writing in snow

There’s always one in every group…

Also, there was some awesome sledding on the gravel pit banks.

Before...

Before…

During…

Hear the fire crackling in the background? We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.

Sledding

Photo credit: Eldest Spawn

clint and avi

Again, Eldest Spawn took this one.

Everybody wants to kill that one bush in the gravel pit…

After

After.

Also, Jill stopped by to model her newest in Funny Farm Fashion. 😉

Baler twine as a hair accessory. True story.

Baler twine as a hair accessory. True story.

All in all, it was the perfect day to ENJOY winter. 30 degrees above zero was reason enough to celebrate. On a related note, the Finns allegedly have more words for “snow” than the Inupiat. Check out the link…Finnish words for snow.

As usual, please like, share, or pin to spread the joy. 🙂

Playing With Water at -25F


One of my latest self-discoveries was that hating winter doesn’t make it shorter, and it certainly doesn’t make me any happier. So, after making ice candles, candle rings, and ice gems/marbles, I went hunting for more crafty ideas on Pinterest and found this genius named Tracy Lynn Conway who had pinned ice sun catchers using a cake pan and/or muffin pans. I was inspired.

The best thing about this cold snap is that I can stand at my kitchen door and watch water freeze. Shut up–it’s verry interesting. Stop judging me!!  Mr. Wonderful found it pretty chuckalicious too, until I sent him a picture.

ice suncatcher

Eat those words, Larry.

This is a fast, cheap, and easy way to fight cabin fever, depression, and/or Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is also Parent of the Year stuff. Youngest Spawn is learning all about frostbite and how ice forms.

Tracy made her sun catchers in the freezer, but I had a blast watching the ice form outside. (And at -20, it was waaaaay faster. See her pin/blog for more on using the freezer.) My favorite effect is when the food coloring freezes while dissipating in the water…it looks like psychedelic snowflakes.

TIP: If you want to use multiple colors, wait until the water is almost ice. Otherwise, you will end up with brown sun catchers.

I’d tried making my ice marbles into hanging ornaments, but the curly ribbon always broke when I tried to remove the balloon. (And they were kind of heavy, which is tough on winter-brittle branches.) That’s where the muffin pan came in. I used magnets to hold the curly ribbon where I wanted it.

muffin pan, sun catcher, ice

I like the way the silver curly ribbon catches the light.

Like the other ice crafts, it’s all about catching the light. A Bundt pan has a ready-made hanging hole, as well as ridges.

ice, bundt pan, suncatcher

I only filled it 1/3 of the way..less weight for the string.

Because I didn’t want all the colors to bleed together, I didn’t add the drops of food coloring until it had started to freeze. Therefore, the color only shows from one side. I dribbled more food coloring on the other side like a glaze.

Glazed.

Glazed.

We have these sets of 3 plastic heart containers at The Barn ($.50 per set), and I just knew they would be good for something. Adding lace (also on clearance), and some foofy colored ice cubes I made from silicone baking molds…

sun catcher, ice, heart. rose,

Ice Valentines to hang in a tree.

Looking forward to seeing this in the sunlight.

Looking forward to seeing this in the sunlight.

On the thicker sun catchers, my color didn’t go all the way through, so I finger-painted a quick heart on the back of this one.

sun catcher, ice, valentine,

This is why my fingers are red.

Again, thank you to Tracy Conway for the great tutorial! Here are some other fun things to do with water in the winter:

ice marbles/gems

Make ice gems/ marbles with balloons. And spray yourself and kitchen blue.

Cool-Whip, Ice candle

Make ice candles with Cool-Whip bowls.

Bundt pan ice candle

Ice candle ring from Bundt pan.

Comments? Questions? Tips? Please “like”, share or Pin it! Better yet, vote to make me Employee of the YEAR!! Loveyabye.

Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy


Lois’ motto for The Barn is: “We’re not here to make money; we’re here to make friends.” So far, so good, lol! We have met some amazing and interesting people in the last 7 years–Miranda Lambert is right, everybody IS famous in a small town.

My sister Lois and I met Kathy Weiand (pronounced WHY-end) through the Dollar Barn almost seven years ago. She used to travel the 45 miles every Monday to shop our store, garage sales, and The Thrift Shop for treasures to add to her craft projects (mostly birdhouses).  In the summer, Fridays are a better day to hit garage sales along the way, so Monday Kathy became Friday Kathy. In the winter, Thursday is her town day, thus she became Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy. As nicknames go, it’s not the most succinct.  Too bad if you’re into the whole brevity thing. (Big Lebowski reference…keep up.)

Now her nephew Cory, of  World By My Design, has revamped her website, tweaked her Etsy shop, and added a blog! We are so excited for her we could just die! 🙂

shopping, holed up north, cook dollar barn, art

This is what she looks like every time she walks into The Barn. That smile! Those dimples! The pure JOY she radiates! Plus, she is usually carrying baked goods and lunch.

birch, lichen, foraging

Surrounded by thousands of acres of woods, there is no shortage of lichen and birch bark for her projects.

birch bark, birdhouse

In her own words:

“I’ve always been creative/crafty. When my husband and I moved up to Northern Minnesota (by the Canadian border) in 1982, we worked a lot at resorts and therefore, had our winters off (hence the ‘Holed up North’). So I started doing crafts to stay busy. A little over 10 years ago I converted our sauna into a wood working shop and started building birdhouses.

As much as I liked doing the other crafts I loved making birdhouses. These were not your ordinary birdhouses. I would scour garage sales, gift shops, and thrift stores to find small figurines or decorations I could use to make the most unique house for indoors or out. I would collect, wash, and varnish small stones from our road, cut alder brush and collect moss from our property to use on the houses. The houses are God-inspired and love-made with my hands.”

holed up north, birdhouse, ornament birdhouse, cook dollar barn, christmas crafts

I still can’t believe she made THIS with stuff from The Barn!

bamboobrasshouse

birdhouse, salon, holed up north, cook dollar barn

Her first blog post is the story behind this perfect gift for your stylist.

In the summer, this is her other job– her “real” job…she is a caretaker and all-around handywoman. One of her clients says this about her OTHER business, Lawn, Home, & Garden:  “This company has taken care of my property, lawn care and then some, for quite awhile ! The quality of their work coupled with fair pricing is unparalleled. In addition to property maintenance, they also have a team of artisans who design and render the most beautiful art such as glorified bird houses, etc… not to be hung outside as they are the most treasured of interior decor! Great company!”

Her other job

But that’s just a few parts of Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy…we love her not just because of what she does, but also who she IS.

In her spare time? She is a firefighter. True story.

Firefighter

Her OTHER other job

Her OTHER other job involves driving this beauty. (We both have a thing for semi’s.)

Employee of the Month, Cook Dollar Barn, Holed Up North

She has even been Employee of the Month at The Barn! And she doesn’t even technically WORK here!!

Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy worries about us because we don’t cook or eat very healthily. So she brings us a homemade, healthy, TASTY lunch every week (veggies cleverly camouflaged in bacon), and extra cookies at Christmas. For Inventory, she volunteers to count billions of tiny dollar store things and brings homemade BOOZE-FILLED CUPCAKES. (We get them for our birthdays, too!) I asked her to marry me for years, but she just laughed…which is good, because then I  found Mr. Wonderful.

She loves to be outside, creates beautiful art, is a volunteer firefighter, lives off the land, bakes, cooks, is deeply spiritual,  heats with wood, loves with words AND actions, and is an all-around Day Brightener. One of my life goals is to be as happy, joyous and free as Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy.

And we may never have gotten to know this wonderful lady if I hadn’t “ruined my sister’s life” by talking her into quitting her job with a Fortune 500 company and opening a dollar store in our home town of Cook, MN (pop. 574). Funny how things work out.

Now go say hi to Monday Friday Mostly Thursday Kathy!! Please?

Fire Starters


Usually, our projects are like what we eat: fast, cheap, and easy. This is not one of those. The good news is that it’s way simpler than it sounds.

It’s fast if you have the supplies already and don’t have to gather the pine cones now and wait two days for them to thaw, warm, and open. Just collecting them was an adventure… (See that one here).

pony, pine cones, fire starters

He wanted to eat the basket. (He gets his head stuck in things a lot.)

It’s cheap if you have wax and a few common kitchen tools that can be dedicated to wax projects.

It’s easier than making candles from scratch.

You will need:

A large pillar candle

Candle, fire starters

This was a huge three wick coconut cake-scented pillar candle.

Double boiler (or a small pot and a glass 2-cup measuring cup, OR a small pot and a wax pouring pitcher)

melting wax

This is a wax melting pitcher, but a large glass or metal measuring cup will work, too.

Wick from pillar candle or pre-waxed wicks

Cupcake papers

firestarters, wax, pinecone, muffins

muffin papers from The Barn

Muffin pan/s (disposable aluminum pans from the Barn would have been smarter than using my real pans.)

Scented wax (optional)

Pine cones

Directions:

While the wax was melting in the double boiler thingy, I set up the papers and wicks.

pine cone firestarters in muffin cups

These are pre-waxed wicks, aka primed wicks. Leave two inches hanging out.

Pine cone firestarters

Also had some pre-made votive wicks with the little metal thingy attached.

pine cone fire starters

Next, I added the pine cones.

pine cone fire starters

Slowly, carefully, and gently pour the melted wax into the papers

pine cone fire starters

The cupcake papers came with foofy picks, so I added them, too.

pine cone fire starters

Let them set for a few hours in the pan, until hardened.

To use: place under kindling and light the wick.

Notes: I did two kinds; the larger fire starters are made with leftover green wax from an unscented pillar and a few balsam scented wax tarts, the smaller starters are made with the already-scented coconut cake candle.

These are easier than real candles because you won’t need to have the wax at a certain temperature or monitor the stearic acid content. They were made with pillar wax so they will hold their shape longer without needing a holder.

As usual, if you found this useful, or have something to add, share, like, comment or Pin it!

Loveyabye!

Fast, Cheap, and Easy Ice Candle Ring


Ok, so all my ice-cream buckets are toast.  The ice pushed through the bottoms instead of the tops. 😦 And I have yet to master the five gallon bucket or garbage can methods. However, I did have one experiment that turned out great…an ice candle ring.

You will need:

A bundt pan

about three quarts water

3 drops food coloring (optional)

winter or a  freezer

votive or tealight candle

long fireplace lighter thingy deal

Ice Marbles/Gems, balloons, ice candle ring, bundt pan, cake pan
I was multitasking.The knobby balloons made weird marbles, and tended to burst.

This is almost too easy. I should check the Thrift Shop for more bundt pans and jell-o molds… Anyway, I just set the pan outside and filled it with water. If you want to add food coloring, rock on. The first ring I made popped right out of the pan, but the second one was tougher, so I asked myself,” What would Lois do??” She said to place the pan in a sink of hot water for a few minutes. It worked like a charm :).

Add a tealight or votive candle, and it’s probably best to light it with a long grill/fireplace/candle lighter. Unless you like burns and frostbite at the same time. (We usually have the candles, food coloring, balloons and lighters at The Barn if you’re local.)

Ice Candle Ring from Bundt Pan
Bring a little light to the cold, dark time of year.

Short video clip of candle flickering here. It was COLD out (-15 F), so it’s a short video. I recommend placing ice candles away from your house, yet visible from a window. It’s very possible they will freeze where they are placed, so make sure it’s not a tripping/shoveling hazard. Safety first, people! Or top five, anyway.

If you think this is a GREAT IDEA, like, comment, pin or share it. Please? If you know a way to make this idea even GREATER, let us know that, too! Loveyabe, Laura

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