As you may already know, I have been selling my photography at the local farmers’ market for about a year now. I don’t go every weekend (especially in the summer when it’s boating time!) but in the fall I have been going more and more consistently, and I have even had several repeat customers! I gotta tell ya, it feels pretty darn good.
Anyway, I had been collecting driftwood for a while and then I stole borrowed my dad’s nail gun. I finally made the driftwood star for my guest room that I had been wanting to make.
The thing is, everyone that saw it said “Oh my God! You should sell those!” So I brought one to the farmers’ market. And it sold instantly. I made another one. It sold too. Every time I brought one to the market it sold. I couldn’t believe how quickly they went. Everyone said, “this is such a unique idea!”
Then one weekend before Thanksgiving an older married couple came up, looked at my star I had for sale, and asked if I make brands. Now, for those of you not familiar with what I mean by brands, I mean cattle brands. Some people design their own for fun, but others still have registered cattle brands that they use to brand their cattle (yes, it’s still a thing). Anyway, so he asked if I could make his brand, the M – (read as M Bar).
So when I made it and sent him this picture of it, he said, “great, now can you make 4 others?” He sent me a picture of the 4 other brands, which were all different, and to be Christmas presents for his kids back in North Dakota.
I worked on these brands for a while, but my work schedule got crazy busy, and then I ran out of small pieces of driftwood. So Hubby and I used that as an excuse to take our new little Runaway Camper out on her maiden voyage to the beach! We camped on the beach and filled half of the truck bed with driftwood.
I was able to finished the brands and get them to the new owner in time to ship them to North Dakota for Christmas. I also made some crosses, and one is a Christmas present for a friend of ours who moved far, far away (to Oklahoma City).
The blue background wood is the same wood from the table that I made (and seen below). I wanted to make sure to use the wood for this gift, because the friend it is for is also familiar with the story of how I came about getting this reclaimed wood, and she would appreciate it (hopefully!) I’ve made a couple other crosses, but since this one was my favorite, at had to be the one I was giving as a gift 🙂 So here are the finished brands! I hope his kids are happy to get them, because I think they turned out pretty neat!
I’ve been making stars like crazy, but the brands really took a toll on my small pieces, so I need to go out and harvest again soon. Luckily it’s been a really warm winter so going down to the beach in December won’t be a big deal!
A few months ago I was able to get my hands on some great old wood when a gentleman I know rebuilt his front porch. When I asked, “do you have a plan for all that old wood?” (trying to hint around that I wanted it) his response was, “a good match.”
I couldn’t stand idly by and watch him burn that beautiful wood, so I asked if I could have it. Now, the tricky thing was this was in Louisiana. I live in Texas. And I had flown to Louisiana on this trip. I went to LA a lot for work at the time, and I knew that eventually (because of project circumstances) someone would have to drive the work truck out there instead of fly, so I would just ask them to bring the wood home for me. Easy peasy. I selected some nice pieces because I knew I wouldn’t need all of it, and I stored it away for the next team to drive up. However, there was a miss-communication and the gentleman that let me have the wood thought that I wanted all of it afterall! So when the next team drove up he helped them load a half-bed full of old lumber. Geez.
I ended up taking more than I had planned, but I felt terrible that the rest was thrown away. NO ONE WANTED IT! And I definitely didn’t have space for all that lumber. I couldn’t even fit it in my car – I DRIVE A PRIUS!
So several months have gone by, and I finally got the guts/energy/inspiration/whateveryouwanttocallit to finally do something with the old lumber. However, since I have had it for several months, Hubby thought it was taking up too much room in the garage (which it was), so he put it outside next to the garage. Where it got rained on, and full of spiders and roaches, and started to grow fungus. Grreeeaaattt….
I was able to wipe all the surfaces down with a wet rag, kill all the spiders and roaches, and then I set the wood out to dry because it had absorbed so very much rainwater.
Also, I raided the barn at my parents’ house recently, and turned up with this:
This is an old bench that my mother has had forever, and it was her grandmother’s. Obviously something along the way had removed the top, so I decided this would be a great base for my first attempt with this old wood. And the bench was already a beautiful color, so there was no need to re-stain it.
Seeing as how I HATE spending money on things that I can make myself, I looked online for a nice pattern that I could turn into a stencil and I found this:
I thought about simply putting it into the corner of the bench and having two or four corners be decorated instead of the center, but then I thought that I really need to expand my horizons with stenciling, so I decided to put this into the center of the bench and using the same stencil four times to make a circular pattern. Also, I decided against doing my chalk method and instead attempted to cut out the pattern from a clear transparency, since I was going to be using the same stencil multiple times I didn’t want it to get stuck to the roller or soggy with paint.
Also, thanks to some advice from Ashley over at Domestic Imperfection, I got some clear polycrylic to protect the beautiful blue paint that was already the amount of distressed that I loved. The last thing I wanted to happen was for the blue paint to chip away the first time someone sat on the bench! Also thanks to Ashley’s advice, I tried it out on some extra wood first to see how it would behave. What I discovered was this: It looks much better brushed on than sprayed on – when it was sprayed it didn’t seem to go on evenly, and I could see bubbly marks. Luckily it dried slow enough that I could spray it on and smooth it out with a foam brush. Also, I tested what it would look like when I painted over the polycrylic. I did NOT like how this made the paint look. Because of the now smooth painted surface the new paint didn’t go on evenly. So I decided that I would paint on the pattern and then spray it with polycrylic to seal the final product. Also, as several DIYers have pointed out, I bought water-based polycrylic because the oil-based kind is known for causing discoloration in your paint over time.
The next step was to build a frame for the wood to screw into place. I didn’t want to attach the reclaimed wood directly to the bench wood, because I was afraid that I would screw it up terribly, and ruin perfectly good wooden bench legs. So instead I spent $1.67 on a 1″x2″x8′ dowel to use as a frame. I wasn’t quite sure where I was going with this because I have never framed anything out like this before, but after one or two miscalculations (this bench is a very weird size, so there aren’t exact inches. The measurements were like 11.62 inches instead of 12) I got the frame set.
I also was nervous about attaching this to the bench legs, but I guess I needed some sort of stability, so I bit the bullet and screwed the frame into the legs.Sort of.
I drilled some cheater holes into the wood first, and then put in the screws. Unfortunately though, I was so concerned about drilling too deep and going right through the bench frame, that I didn’t drill deep enough so the screws started stripping before I got them flush with the wood. Good thing they will be hidden by the top 🙂
After a few cold snaps and not wanting to work in the garage/yard because I just wanted to be warm, I sucked it up and got the energy to work on it again. Also, and I will say this was the real hold up, I didn’t have a good way to steady the boards while I attached them to the frame. I was worried about them being too far apart from each other after I screwed them into the wood, and being stuck with them that way.
Until just a couple weeks ago, when Hubby and I went to Harbor Freight so he could buy a manual log splitter. I saw these awesome, huge, heavy-duty clamps, (that were only like $10 each) and I knew that was what was missing from my garage repertoire I had been trying to build up. A few days later, I had the top attached.
Now, in order to do the pattern on the top, I had a couple ideas. I thought I could do the chalk method I had used in the past, but then I was afraid that the pattern would be too busy for the chalk to work. I thought about stenciling, but I had recently had bad luck with a home-made stencil, so I was a little gun shy. And the last thing I want to do is screw up this beautiful reclaimed wood! So I decided that I would cut out the negative (white) space, and use it to trace with a pencil. As I was cutting out the negative space, the positive space tore in a few places, so I was definitely going to have to trace with the pencil instead.
And I also discovered that the pattern was actually too big to put into the center and repeat it 4 times, making a perfect circle. Whoops, I guess I should have checked that. Oh well, I like the idea of the corners being decorated too!
I taped the stencil down and drew the shapes in with a pencil. I made sure to have lots of light in the form of a head lamp to make sure I could see what I was doing clearly.
Here is a close up of what the penciling looked like.
I did two layers of white paint and then added a light gray to the edge to make it pop out a little bit, but not too much.
And this is the final product!
So now I have a beautiful accent piece that cost $0, and an extra seat if needed!
I made a few gifts for friends of mine for Christmas, and I really tried to put a lot of thought into what they would like. Like Trixie with JD I knew that my friends Dr. and Mr. Smerek would love this:
I did get this idea off of Pinterest, but only the general idea. I used the wood that was reclaimed from an old patio that I used for another project that you will see soon!
This was a really easy project. I used the same technique for the lettering as I did for my Rustic Sign DIY and added a black shadow on the lettering to make it pop out against the blue background. I also used some twine for the hanger, and I used some steel brackets to connect the boards together. I did have some issues with connecting the boards together because the wood was so old that it was sort of bending and not looking at all like a finished product. I also tried to get some of those wood bracket things like these:
because I was low on tiny screws, so I was trying to not use any. THESE DID NOT WORK. The super old wood was too hard to hammer them into the wood, and they ended up just bending and looking horrible. So I ended up getting some long steel bars that were made for this exact thing, and lo and behold! It worked, and ended up looking great!
When I gave it to Dr. Smerek for Christmas, she loved it, and even hung it on their mantle just in time for their family Christmas. And when they decide to have their 6 kids, I left room for each name or birthday, or whatever they want 🙂
[Warning, this post is not as Light-Tight-And Bright as I normally keep my posts.]
While I was teaching biology labs in Grad School, I had the opportunity to get on my soap box from time to time, and say the things that matter most to me, and hopefully pass on some knowledge other than what was in the textbooks.
It’s been a while since I was on my soap box.
I have missed my soap box. [Steps up, and clears throat]
I posted this on my Facebook page here, but I felt that it was not quite enough to get my words out. It didn’t cover enough ground. I needed a bigger outlet. So I’m re-posting it here, with a little more oomph.
I saw this video posted on Facebook about Midway Island. It’s a tiny island 2,000 miles from the nearest continent, that is frequented by seabirds like the Albatross, a huge seabird that flies for miles on end searching for food to feed their chicks which are hatching all over Midway Island. The thing is, that the video was not so much about the island, but it was about how we are killing the next generation of Albatross because the island is covered in garbage.
Not only do the chicks find interesting things to eat while they are waiting for their parents to return, but the parents are bringing back interesting items that are floating on the surface of the water. They are easy to collect because they don’t fight back, and they fill up the stomach, so they must be tasty morsels of food, right?
Except that those interesting items that they are eating are pieces of plastic that have washed ashore or are floating in the ocean. True, they fill up the stomach, but they also don’t break down and take up space that true tiny fish morsels could be taking up. No nutrients are getting to the birds, so they die with a full stomach. Full of plastic cigarette lighters and bottle tops and whatever else will float on the water long enough to be picked up by the birds.
After fighting it’s way back from extinction (also caused by humans), the California Condor has started to fill their babies tummies with plastic bottle tops as well, killing the recovering population with what is termed Anthropogenic Junk. Vultures, gulls, and crows are known for frequenting dumps to find food scraps let behind by people. The best place in the US that you can see the Tamualipas Crow is at a dump in South Texas.
It’s not just birds, either. I have found a dead calf in a pasture once, that had a stomach full of plastic grocery bags, baling twine, and all sorts of other garbage. I have seen cows in pastures chewing on plastic bags as I drove by, helpless. Bears are known for frequenting dumps as well, and I found picture after picture of camels, goats, turtles, seals, and dolphins dead or dying from eating or getting tangled in anthropogenic junk.
Below is what I posted on Facebook regarding the video. It’s a little emotional, but for good reason. Please feel free to repost this. Either the video or my blog post as well. I don’t care. I just want to get the message out there. Maybe it will reach enough people. Maybe it will change some minds. Maybe it will help…
It’s amazing to me that people think that it’s ok to throw plastic on the ground and leave it there, as if someone else is coming up behind them and cleaning up the mess they leave behind. It’s also amazing to me that those same people do …not seem to understand how massive an impact they are making on wildlife populations. It doesn’t matter where you live – your litter will find its way to a place where it shouldn’t be.
Doesn’t it disgust them to walk on the beach and see garbage everywhere? Doesn’t it worry them that they will cut their foot on the broken bottle that someone else left there? Doesn’t it bother them that there are dirty diapers and household waste where their children are trying to play?
How is it any different for animals? Why should they live amongst the garbage that humans produce? Why should their needs be ignored?
Because we are human? Because we are smarter? If we were so much smarter, than why are we letting this happen, year after year? Why have we not been able to stop being selfish? Why are we killing off the only place we can possibly live?
Doesn’t sound very smart to me.
I always like to end my posts with a positive note, so below are some links to how you can help. You can also find similar efforts in your local area.
I always see these great crafts in stores, but my problem (and the reason for the solution) is that I’m cheap. Usually when I see something, my first thought is, ‘I would buy that if it was half the price.’ And my second thought is, ‘I can make that.’
Now, usually it ends there. I don’t think anything of it, I never actually make the thing that I said I could make, and I’m ok with it. However, I see signs like the above one at craft shops and flea markets, and they always seemed cute, but never worth spending money on. Aside from the whole I can make that thing, they never had the right phrase. Usually they are cute or romantic or something, but I read it once and then I think about how I could never look at that everyday, because I’m already sick of it, and it’s still in the store!
Until Hubby said something that was perfect. One day, I think when we were at The Salt Lick, I was taking pictures with my phone and uploading them to Instagram (What, My Wildhood is on Instagram!? Follow me here: @ my_wildhood) what I asked Hubby what I should hash-tag a photo. He suggested #OnEarthAsItIsInTexas and I thought that was so perfect, that I had to do more than just use it as a hash-tag. Of course, being a Texan, I had heard the phrase before, but it was logged away in my memory bank…Not really at the tip of my tongue.
So I decided THAT was going to be the perfect phrase to go onto the rustic wooden sign that I was going to make.
So there is the back story, and here is how I did it:
Step 1: Get a pallet. They are free everywhere. Tractor Supply has a giant stack outside that they HOPE people take. They are such a waste, really. They can be used multiple times, but when stores get them, it’s not like they are also shipping things out, so they have no use for them. Instead, they put them out by the dumpster free for the taking.
Pallet art/crafts have gotten pretty popular lately, and I can’t decide if I think everything made out of pallets looks good or crappy. Maybe it just depends on the construction. However, pallet wood is not meant to look pretty, so if you want it to look really good, you actually have to do a lot of work to them so they don’t look awful.
Step 2: Take it apart. This is A LOT harder than it sounds if you don’t want to damage the wood. The one I had was not actually nailed together. It had these interesting nail/screws holding it together so it wouldn’t come apart very easily on purpose. Good thing I have a big strong Hubby to help me out! I ended up cutting one end so that the edge was free of scrails and then he took a rubber mallet (so as to not put giant dents into the wood) to break the rest of it apart. Then I ripped out all of the scrails as soon as possible to avoid any injuries. (I have had nails go through my foot before – not a pretty sight!)
Step 3: Sand the boards. Like I mentioned, pallets are not made to be pretty. They are made out of the cheapest wood possible, so you want to sand it down to make it look and feel better. I used a medium sand paper, and it could have been coarser, but that was all I had and I already didn’t have a dime in this project, so I was not about to go BUY more sand paper!
Step 4: Measure Twice, Cut Once. Figure out the dimensions you want the sign and how you want your boards arranged.
Step 5: This is the only thing you need true technology for. See, like I said: I’m cheap. So I was not about to have a stencil professionally made, or buy stencil letters, or anything like that, because they cost way too much for someone who doesn’t use that sort of thing all the time. So I went onto Pinterest and found a way to make your own letters, in whatever font you want!
Go into your word processor, and type out what you want it to say in the font and size you want. Now, on Pinterest, the chick that provided this info had one fatal flaw in her description. She suggested that you actually hold up a piece of paper to your computer screen, and trace the letters onto paper. I have no idea why she would think that is a good idea, because you aren’t even supposed to put finger pressure on the screens that people have these days, so the fact that she thought it was a good idea to press a pen or pencil into the screen BLOWS MY MIND. INSTEAD, all you have to do is this (and this is only for Microsoft, sorry Mac peeps) Go into the Font Section (Edit Font, or whatever it’s called) and go to the bottom of the window that says Text Effects. Another window will pop up, that has Text Fill and Text Outline. Click on Text Fill, and Select No Fill. Click on Text Outline, and select Solid Line. You can pick the color and thickness of the line. I suggest Black since that’s easiest to see, and pick at least a 1 pt. line so that it’s thick enough. Then print it out. It doesn’t waste ink, and you have all that you need.
Once you get the lettering home and cut the letters out in a general shape (not perfectly cut out, see below) then you color the back of the letters with chalk. This works great on a black background, but if you are doing this on a lighter background you can use pencil instead of chalk.
Step 6: Arrange the letters/words how you want them and tape them down. (I guess I kind of missed the step of painting your background color before you do this. Oops…Anyway, I guess that’s really step 4 1/2. I also took the sander and sanded the edges after it dried so they weren’t so harsh-looking). Don’t use a very strong tape or it will pull up your background color.
Step 7: Time to act like a 10 year old and color inside the lines! You can use a pencil, pen, or even just a dull pointy object to transfer the chalk to the wood.
Step 8: Marvel at my your genius.
Step 9: Paint over the chalk letters.
Step 10: Wipe down the wood with a damp towel, and again marvel at my your genius!
So go forth, and make your own perfect phrase for your home! It’s easy, it’s a relatively quick project, and it’s super cheap to do!
And to make the rain barrels even better, Hubby set up the third barrel while I wad out of town for work! Now we have three barrels, and they are built around the corner of the garage.
This way, they take up less space, and when we build the greenhouse they will be easily accessible for watering all of my future plants! Hubby even put in an overflow hole on the third barrel which will flow into the original concrete downspout collection thing, to prevent erosion of the soil below the rain barrel. Best. Husband. Ever.
I have been wanting a greenhouse for the longest time, and finally Hubby and I are in a position that we are price shopping, and trying to get ideas for building one. This is incredibly exciting for me! I plan on having a beautiful greenhouse that has room to store all of our yard tools like the lawn mower and weed eater, as well as my extra pots, shelves for potted plants, a sink for washing out my used pots, and an area to store my composter, because one of the dogs has decided that is HIS. And trust me, no one else wants to touch it after he has “claimed it”. So, inside the greenhouse it goes!
We had a great weekend planned. Saturday we were going to the City Wide Garage sales that Needville does twice a year. It’s pretty great – they print out a map of all the houses that registered to have a garage sale that weekend, and they even have a little description of what will be there. So much fun! However, the sales in the Spring are usually better (Spring Cleaning and all) so the ones last weekend were pretty disappointing. We spent a whopping $0.75. I bought a necklace for $0.50 and Hubby bought a meat thermometer for the grill for $0.25. I know. Big Spenders.
But after the garage sales, we made the best of it by getting some barrels to make rain barrels. We know of a man who owns a car wash and always has his extra plastic drums for sale. This time he didn’t have any of the big 55-gallon blue drums.
All he had were three 15-gallon plastic drums that contained car wax. All we had to do was wash them out and they were good to go! And the best part was, he could never find anyone that wanted those containers, so he gave them to us for free! My favorite word!
We set them off to the side as a “we’ll get to it” project, and went tra-la-la through the rest of the day. The next day, I had tickets for the Houston Home and Garden Show. Yes, I was dragging my husband to the Home and Garden Show, but the idea was to get Greenhouse ideas, and hopefully speak with a greenhouse company, to get some ideas on pricing, design, and where we can save money the best.
There was not a single greenhouse company there.
There was ONE landscaping company there.
That was the ONLY “garden” related vendor at the Home and GARDEN show. We were so disappointed. Instead, we got hasseled by every salesman asking if we wanted to replace our windows, build a new home, remodel our existing home, built a deck, or put in a jacuzzi. We were there for less than an hour. So again, to make the best of our day, Hubby tried to find any kind of greenhouse company we could in the GPS (no, we still don’t have smart phones, get off my back!) but couldn’t really find much. So instead we went to Home Depot and got all the stuff we needed to make rain barrels!
$26 later, we had what we needed to make 2 super awesome rain barrels. We had a third container, but didn’t think we would need it. Our plan was save it for later, or give it away, but we would figure it out later.
As we planned this out, we realized how easy this really would be. I pointed out where I wanted holes drilled, and Hubby drilled them.
The spigots didn’t fit right off the bat from drilling because the drill bit measured the inside diameter of the hole in the pipe, not the outside diameter of the pipe itself. So we had to do some redneck engineering on that, but got it done.
After we got the holes to the right size in two barrels, I mixed up the epoxy and squished the spigots into place, and Hubby drilled screws in also, to cover all the bases. While I was doing that, Hubby was attaching screen to the top of the barrel to prevent debris from getting into the barrels.
Next we cut holes near the top of the barrels to attach them together via PVC pipe, and put them outside to hook up to the gutter.
Once we got the down-spout funnel attached to the gutter, we attempted to use caulking and glue it to the top of the barrel. Then we caulked the PVC pipe on the outside of the barrel to prevent leaking.
Then it started to rain.
We thought, ‘wow what a perfect time to test them out!’ Of course, the caulking hadn’t had time to dry, but it turned out not to matter. The rain barrels filled up and began to over-flow within just a couple hours! We sat on the porch watching the rain, enjoying how much water we were going to save by watering the yard and my plants with rainwater, when the first barrel filled and began to run over into the second barrel, just as we planned. We were over-joyed! The project worked, it was easy, and cheap! And then the second barrel started to over-flow. ‘Good thing we have that other barrel!’ And then we hooked up a hose to the second barrel to let it drain into the yard. And then the first rain barrel started to over-flow. We ended up having to leave both spigots open and draining into the yard to that we wouldn’t get a massive flood into the house because of the barrels’ location! For several hours, Hubby and I would run outside into the pouring rain, check to make sure nothing had broken loose or that there wasn’t about to be a tidal wave of rainwater headed toward the house, and then run back inside, laughing hysterically.
We are planning on going from car wash to car wash asking the attendants for empty containers, and lining the garage and probably the fence with rain barrels. Or at least making the one we already have into a rain barrel. Baby steps, people.
Step one toward building an amazing greenhouse, get a water source to that part of the yard. Check. And apparently, very successfully.
Step two toward building an amazing greenhouse, find a greenhouse no one wants, and take it 🙂
Think that’s how it will work out? Who knows….people get rid of weird stuff
These are my silly travel stories where I use humor and sarcasm to explain other cultures and world events. I use this forum to be a voice for the Little Guy. Little Guys have tiny, squeaky voices and no one wants to hear them anyway.