Follow your passions, people! I’ve not seen this technique before, the skull looks amazing.
(Hat tip: Scissorhead kctomato via Twitter)
I think that as far as well-kept secrets go, that I love a good snort is probably the worst-kept secret of all. I think close runner-up must be that I love making some hooch now and then.
My wine-pairing teacher (from Chez Panisse, no less) praised me for my bitter tongue–if only he knew–and so my taste preference sends me towards Limoncello, that sweet/sour/bitter lemony delight from Italy seems like a natural fit. The problem is that most bottlings of Limoncello go too sweet (or too strong), and so I usually shun the stuff.
As regular readers might note, I’m not keen on flavored vodkas (or any vodka for that matter); the stuff doesn’t have a taste, it only has an effect, and I consider it to be the preferred drink of drunks. So please don’t tell me that citrus-flavored vodka is the same thing as Limoncello, it is not. Limoncello has a roundness to it, a flavor that rolls across all the taste buds, from the tip of your tongue to the back. Limoncello also has a mouth-feel; it is substantial without being viscous. At the end of the sip, you do not have that Nyquil my mouth and tongue is coated feeling.
Limoncello is usually served ice cold, in small glasses, and often as a shot. But that is also usually a mistake. While shooting Limoncello is certainly a possibility, you should reasonably linger over it as you might lemonade (which is also better cold and undiluted). Put the Limoncello in the freezer and put the glasses in the freezer, and serve it undiluted and well chilled. Sip it, admire the beauty of the person you are seducing (probably your wife or husband as Scissorheads are notoriously romantic and loyal), and enjoy the summer night.
- The yellow-only zest of 15 lemons (I use Meyer when in season, why not?)
- 2 fifths of unflavored vodka, best quality you can afford at a reasonable price (see the tips below, too)
- 4 Cups sugar (organic is best, pure cane sugar is great, avoid beet sugar)
- 5 cups water (if you have good tap water, that’s best)
- If you have a micro-plane grater or zester, now is the time to call it into action. If you do not have one, this is as good an excuse as any to buy one. 15 lemons is a lot to zest, this makes fast work, and you get no white pith. Make sure the lemons are washed and dried before you start.
- In a large glass jar (or other food-safe and non-reactive vessel), add the lemon zest and the vodka. Seal it well, shake it, and set it aside for 40 days. Make a note in your (computer’s) calendar for today + 40 days as the reminder. (Truthfully, you can do less, but 40 days–Biblical!–is best.)
- At the end of 40 days, combine the sugar and the water to make a simple syrup. Boil the sugar-water mixture for about 10 minutes (full, rolling boil, so use a big pan), remove from the heat, and let it cool.
- Add the cooled syrup to the Limoncello and stir it in. Let the full mixture rest for up to another 40 days. (Again, you can call it done in 10 days, but jeepers! Why make it easy on yourself?)
- OK, now, at the end of all this time (80 Days? Around the world in 80 days?!), strain the Limoncello. You can use a coffee filter, or whatever. Just separate the solids from the liquids.
- Put the finished Limoncello in the freezer. I usually pour it into smaller bottles, but whatever. When very chilled, serve shot glass-sized servings in frozen Old Fashioned glasses. After dinner. Always after dinner. On hot summer evenings. Perhaps with Frank or Dean singing something seductive.
I want to stress this: keep it in your freezer.
But wait! There’s more!
You knew this was coming, right?
- Adventurous types: instead of the 2 bottles of vodka, you can use 1 bottle of grain alcohol. I don’t recommend this, but there is a frat boy in all of us.
- My friends tell me that you can run cheap vodka (the stuff in plastic bottles often on sale at the local CVS–and I kid you not “White Wolf” is at mine) through a water-filter pitcher and suddenly it becomes a super-premium vodka. OK, so try it and report back to us.
- My sister Eightgrain tells me that when she was in Italy the last time (that chick gets around), all the Limoncello had vanilla bean added to the mix. It sounds delightful — sort of like what a good semi-freddo might have in the lemon curd–but I think this might be a matter of taste; if you do this, I would add it to the sugar syrup at the end and filter the solid vanilla bean out with the coffee filter; I cannot offer advice on how long to let it seep.
- I have served this with a rosemary twig as a garnish, and I think that works really well –if you like an herbal finish.
- If you like the Lemon Drop cocktail, what the heck, use this instead of the vodka and see what happens. Roman Holiday!
(Seriously, if you have an addiction problem (or think you might), enjoy some good lemonade on a hot night. The seduction is up to you, but if you are a Scissorhead that should come pretty naturally to you.)
When GRS and I were talking about starting the Speak-Easy feature, this simple French country-side sip came to mind. I made it one year for some coworkers as Christmas presents, and well, let’s just say it was a mystery why they all left work early and the next day called in sick.
When they did show up, they told me it was French White Lightening. I think Madame would be pleased.
This is a really simple thing to make, basically it is a fortified wine. And now that we are in orange season, all you really need to do is save some peels from the oranges you enjoyed eating and dry them in the oven (and they make the house smell wonderful), and they make the finished vin have a deeper caramel color and flavor.
Fair Warning: this does not taste as strong as it is, so let my co-workers story be your guide. It will sneak up on you.
- Dried peels from 6 small oranges
- 1 Fifth dry red wine – like a Zin
- 3/4 Cup of sugar
- 1/2 Cup of Vodka
- Preheat the oven to 300Â°. Spread the orange peels on a baking sheet and toast them, turning them now and again. When the pith (the white part) is golden and the outside has turned deep orange, they are done. It takes about 45 minutes for me.
- Place the wine, sugar, vodka, and dried orange peels in a clean dry jar with a lid and put it in a cool dark place.
- Daily for the first week, shake the jar. When you notice that the sugar is dissolved, you can stop doing the daily shake.
- Let it sit for at least a month, preferably longer.
- Strain the wine through a fine strainer and discard the peels. Decant into dry and cleaned wine bottles, cork them and store in a cool, dark place until you are ready to enjoy it.
Here’s a tip: you can re-use your old wine corks by boiling them in water for a few minutes. They soften up and then you can jam them into the wine bottles. Re-use, reduce, recycle!
While oranges are in season, I try to make a batch of this at least monthly so I can lay down a small stock to last for a while. There is nothing better than a glass of this (on the rocks) on a warm summer evening, shared with some friends before dinner.
A little splash of this in a flute of champagne is really good.
Welcome to the MPS Speakeasy! Just in time for the holidays, MPS is offering a bevy of beverage recipes to help celebrate the season. This first installment is brought to you by the letter Beer! Don’t be scared. Making your own beer is easy and it’s delicious. Beer is the reason we have agriculture. If ancient humans could make beer, you bet you can too.
This month in the Tigresses’ Canning Challenge, the secret ingredient is rhubarb (or asparagus); I made things from both ingredients before I left on the trip, and brought the pickled asparagus spears with me in the hamper on the train, and it was delish.
And sadly, like the idjit I am, I did not write down the recipe before leaving.
That said, I did write down the recipe for the base of this cocktail, I did can it, and it did come out so well, it will be featured at the annual barbecue here at the Hut. I highly recommend you make this cocktail (if you are so inclined and do not have abuse issues), but you do not have to can the cordial to make the cocktail; it will probably keep for a several weeks in the ice box without processing it.
Anyway, as you may recall from last month’s challenge for herbs, I paired lavender with rhubarb and it was a winner. I wanted to do something similar for this month’s challenge, but not have it be jam. Last month, there was an entry for Rhubarb and Angelica cordials from one of the British food bloggers, Laundry Etc., that really intrigued me. So, in short I built my entry this month upon the success of her entry last month, and the research I did on the lavender-rhubarb jam I made last month.
The secret to working with lavender is to get the right amount of flower-power in your product without going too far. If you add too many lavender blossoms, you really do end up with something that tastes like very good soap — and I had my mouth washed out enough as a young ‘Grain to know.
So let’s get on with it, shall we?
True Story: I had something else to post when we had a little earthquake, and my magazines, which were precariously stacked on the edge of the table near my favorite chair, fell over.
Because my design philosophy is that design should always first be about problem solving, this little project flashed through my mind — it solves some of my obsessive magazine collecting by allowing me to organize and store them
You can, of course, decorate the binders, too.
Update: I received an email from a ReadyMade reader telling me that there is no such word as trembler, or that I was using it wrong, or something. At anyrate, I’m glad this one is being read. I checked the stats on it at ReadyMade, and it is being linked wildly all over the place. Success!
My big stack of ReadyMade back issues fell over during a trembler we had over the weekend, and the event shook a some sense into me: I realized my slovenly ways must come to an end. If you too have a stack of magazines that you intend to will to your children because they are so special [Editor's note: Awww, Kevin, you're too sweet!], here’s a cheap and easy way to organize them.
- Binders (Where I work, everyone is constantly throwing out binders. You can probably get some for free if you just look around.)
- Twine or string
- Measure the spine of your magazine, double the measurement, and add a couple of extra inches to the number. This becomes the length of twine you need. Cut a length of twine to this measurement for each magazine you have that you want to keep.
- Open each magazine to about the midpoint. Lay the string down the spine, through the magazine like a bookmark, and tie the ends together to make a loop. Keep the knot on the outside of the magazine.
- Slip the string inside of the three rings on the binder.
- Store your binder of magazines up on a shelf, and admire the organization you just brought to your workspace, practically for free.
My sister, Whole Wheat, and I go to the SF Garden Show every year, it is part of our birthday tradition. I wonder around like the garden geek that I am, and we take copious notes and pictures. Somewhere along the line we stop for wine and cheese, and then we go shopping. And usually, at the end of the day we buy some chocolate to nibble on as we head back to the car.
This year there were a lot of very creative ideas, but admittedly, the UC Berkeley landscape architecture students really made some amazing things. I may have to
borrow steal these. Especially the wine cork pathways. I hate to say it, but I think I have enough corks to do it…
I spent the day at the SF Garden Show — and there were some great ReadyMade ideas. While all the exhibits were really wonderful, the one that stood apart from the rest was from the UC Berkeley Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning.
The students chose as their theme, “Wine Re-Defined – Structure, balance, and bouquet in the urban garden.” All of the materials they used came directly or indirectly from the wine industry.
Here are three ideas from their exhibit that grabbed my attention: (you can click on the image for a larger view)
Lights – the lights used recycled wine bottles on what appear to be a simple cord. The bottoms of the bottles were cleanly removed. (The glass polished, there were no sharp edges.)
Furniture: the furniture in the display garden was made from recycled wine barrels. The statuary was made from the barrel hoops. Notice the rich, red color — the wood was stained from the red wine.
One of the students told me that there are 721 corks in each flagstone, and then smiled and said it was a fun group project.
Guess who just picked up some art from the framing shop?
I’ve never been good at hanging pictures. I can never get them positioned right, and then when I finally commit to where I want them to go, I cannot execute the design. Usually I end up calling over a friend who “stages” houses for a real estate company. He finally taught me the tricks of the trade. Here’s how the pro’s hang pictures:
- Brown craft paper, cut to the exact dimension of your art
- Picture hook or nails
- Yellow Stickies
- Low-tack tape
- Measuring tape
- Using the craft paper cut to the exact size of your art, make an arrangement of the art shapes that pleases you, and using the low-tack tape put this up on the wall in the exact location where you intend to hang the real art.
- Flip your art over. Align the top of the yellow sticky with the top edge of your art.
- Using your intended picture hook (or the nail) mark on the yellow sticky the high point of the hanging wire. This is the point where the wire will hang on the nail. Mark it with your pencil.
- Remove the yellow sticky and go back to the craft paper on the wall. Align the top of the yellow sticky with the top edge of the craft paper, and center it.
- Attach the picture hook to the wall so that the hook is on top of the exact mark on the yellow sticky. You can tear away all the paper once you have attached the picture hook to the wall.
- Hang your art on the hook.
Scissorheads: as you already know, I have a thing about boxes. It is probably a pathology, but I love ‘em, I collect ‘em, and I make ‘em. So anytime I find a project that involves making a custom box, I’m all over it.
This is really a nice little program that will make a template for a tuck-box of any size you enter. My example uses postcards, but think of all the other things you could store. What about all those giftcards you get at christmas you don’t want to carry around with you all the time, or maybe you have some other small collection you want to store together.
By opening this up in Photoshop, you can further customize the design, add your own graphics or images or text. To me, this is a fun way to get organized.
People send me postcards all the time. My refrigerator is like a museum of other peoples’ vacations — allowing me to travel to exotic locations vicariously. I keep them not only for the scenic vistas, but sometimes there is a design aspect that I like for my own work: color combinations, placement of the subject matter, or unusual typefaces. The problem is that I run out of refrigerator display space way before I run out of postcards.
Problem solved: I discovered a CGI program on the web called Super Deluxe Tuckbox Template Maker by Craig P Forbes that generates custom tuck-boxes for you based on the dimensions you specify. You enter height, depth, width for your box and specify the size of paper you plan to use, and it generates a PDF template for you to print out and use. A tuckbox is the kind of box that a deck of cards comes in.
Suggestion: if you own Photoshop, you can open the PDF (Photoshop automatically rasterizes the file), and you can customize your template further. Add your own graphics, type, or some images to make your tuckbox your own.
I used to be all thumbs when it came to wrapping presents–I saw it as a chore instead of an opportunity to be creative. Now that I take my time and work through the process, wrapping presents can be kinda soothing.
Here are some resources to help you:
- Who else but Oprah would have a set of very clear instructions? I especially like the last part, where she creases the edges of the gift–it really does make a difference.
- Here’s how your average monkey wraps a package
- Carolyne Roehm also has a line of gift wraps available, and her material and style is very elegant. I thumbed through her book one day, and it is stunning. The presents look too perfect to open.
- Use double-sided tape–you won’t need as much as single-sided, and it really does make a difference in the final presentation.
- Fold-over the “raw” edges of your paper–this gives you a clean line, much like a hem, and your packages will be less likely to tear if handled roughly.
- My grandmother taught me to use a butter knife to cut the paper–just make a fold, and use the dull knife to gently rip it along the fold line. It is both faster and more even than using scissors.
- Choose a single wrapping paper and stick with it, then mix it up with a variety of ribbons.
- Larger packages require wider ribbons. While a small package might look OK with a wide ribbon, a big package looks absurd with a small one.
- I stock up on wrapping paper once a year and choose something like green paper and gold ribbon, so I can use it for any occasion.
- Create your own, personalized gift tags with your favorite drawing software. Why go to all the trouble to have amazing packages, only to have a post-it note as the gift tag?
The most important thing to remember is to have fun, even if you’re wrapping all your gifts late on Christmas eve. I mean, that champagne isn’t going to drink itself, now is it?
Folks – This really is an easy project – I’ve made probably a dozen or so yesterday with left over orange paper. I plan to make more with tissue paper (I have bronzes, golds, and silvers; I think I have some red); admittedly my leaves are not as refined as the one in the picture, but they are really pretty nonetheless.
When I was a kid, we used to make paper leaves and write on them what we were thankful for, and hang them on a branch as part of our Thanksgiving tradition. I might bring that back this year now that I am making leaves again.
I think autumn is my favorite time of year. The crisp air, the smell of fires in the fireplace, the leaves, all of it makes me happy.
I try to capture some of those experiences for my Thanksgiving, but here in California, the leaves rarely turn red, they turn gray. I checked with the Master Gardeners Program in Santa Clara County and learned that sugar maple trees are the only ones that put on those famous displays back east, and they do not grow here.
Luckily, I found the Yasutomo website, which has an easy way to make an origami maple leaf. I plan to make a pile of leaves for my table decoration.
This project is another re-use of something you might otherwise throw away. And if you live in an uptight neighborhood, you might want to think twice about hanging juice cartons from the limbs of trees in the front yard. Just sayin’.
Autumn is in full glory in the Bay Area, and soon winter will be here. You need to make a decision about feeding the birds in your neighborhood: many will not migrate if there is a steady food supply. If you continue feeding them now, you need to make a commitment for feeding them all winter. If you do decide to feed them all winter, here is a project that can make that easier: the drink-carton bird feeder.
Birds are naturally curious animals, and they will explore anything hanging in your yard or balcony.
- Juice or other waxy box carton, thoroughly cleaned and dry
- String or twine
- serrated knife
- Cut out a window on all four sides of your container. You can adjust the size of the windows to suit the type of birds you have.
- Punch a hole in the pointy tented-flap top of the carton, and put a loop of string through the hole.
- Fill the bird feeder with seed to just below the window sill level and hang somewhere you can enjoy watching the birds.
What is really nice about this project: it keeps the seed dry; if you don’t fill it too full, the birds are less likely to scatter the seeds; when the birds finish off the seeds, if they made a mess inside (the smaller birds will climb inside), you can throw it out and start over with a new one carton. You do not have to clean it out before refilling.
You might even get some birds to use this as a bird house, but I have not had much luck with that. If you want to give it a try, make only one opening in the carton, and punch some holes in the bottom for drainage. With bird houses, the size of the opening and the height of the bird house often make a determination about which type of bird will live there.
Ok, for those of you keeping track: I did take a few posts off while in recovery from my shoulder. I knew what I wanted to post about, but I did not feel up to using a drill or getting on a ladder. I still don’t, but, d’uh, I realized I had a hook not being used, and thus a post is born.
I think this is a really easy project, and truthfully, you could use the “flying disk” as a bird seed tray too. Yes, I am one of the people I talked about, who don’t like to weed the sprouting seeds, and frankly there is already enough bird-poo in the world. So bird bath it is.
Question: do you say bird bath or bird splash? I was raised on “splash,” but whenever I say it, people just stare at me. Is this a regional variation?
If you like to watch birds in your backyard or balcony, you need to provide some amenities to attract them. Birdseed is always a good choice, but it you don’t like to weed the sprouted seeds and if the occasional bird boo-boo bothers you, then you might want to consider a bird bath.
Frankly, nothing attracts a bird like water.
This is a very simple way to create a hanging bird bath; I saw one recently in a catalog for $60, so this is way less expensive. And you probably already have all the bits you need to make it today.
- a “flying disk” of some kind — it does not have to be that name brand, and as long as it has no punctures in it, you might as well use the trashed one from college
- a hook
- drill — to install the hook
- Decide where you are going to hang the bird bath, and if needed install the hook. If you have a convenient tree limb, or other somewhat horizontal item from which to hang it, you might decide to skip this step entirely.
- Determine the approximate length of the twine to hang the bird bath. I used about four feet, as the post I used to hang it is about 10 feet above ground. I want the bath to be where I can easily see the birds and also easily take down the disk for cleaning.
- Cut off three lengths of twine and tie all three into a knot on one end. Repeat this on the other end.
- Hang the twine on the hook, insert the flying disk, and fill it with water. Little bird-sized turkish towels are optional.
I’m really happy with this one. As regular readers know, last week’s rain gutter bookshelf was only an idea, I did not actually go out and do this. So… this week’s project redeems me.
True story: I got absent minded at the hardware store and wandered into a part of it I had not seen, where they had real building supplies. I sort of walked slack-jawed along starring at all the shiney metal stuff wondering what it was when I spotted these amazing angle brackets in the joist hanging department. Each side of the bracket is about the size of a paperback book, and that is what made me think of doing this. I only bought one because I was not sure it would work, but it does.
I’m thinking about making a wall of these — they really look like art, just floating there. The best part is that the brackets cost about $6, so for about a buck a book, I can get some of these off the floor and on the wall.
Last week, I suggested using a rain gutter to make a bookshelf for holding books face-forward, this week the books float on the wall.
Hint: it’s not magic.
- an angle bracket from the joist hanging department at the hardware store. It should be L-shaped, and each leg of the bracket is about the size of a paperback book.
- Epoxy glue
- one old book that you don’t care that much about — this will get glued to the bracket and will not be readable once in place
- Sturdy nails, strong enough to hold the weight of your books.
- Flip open the back of the old book, and place one side of the angle-bracket on the end pages. Use the epoxy glue to glue the bracket to the book, and to glue to back cover to the bracket. This forms the base to stack the other books and creates the illusion that the books are floating. Let the glue dry overnight. I put some weights on the now-closed book to make sure it had good contact.
- The next day, hang the angle bracket – ensure that it is level when you hang it, or the books will slide off.
- Stack up enough books so that where the angle bracket is attached to the wall is hidden.
I think a wall full of these would make a great display of your books, kinda of a floating library.
I originally called this post “In the gutter,” but the editor of the magazine did not like the title. Oh, well…
This is a truly inspired idea, I wish I thought of it. Originally this was brought to my attention about a year ago in the ReadyMade Forums (and if you are not a member, I really should ask you why not?) — and at the time I thought it was cool, but limited because it is always presented as a child’s project. As my regular readers know, I don’t hate children, but I’ve never been able to finish one at a single sitting…
So, in the back of my mind I have been thinking about this idea for about a year, and it struck me: cookbooks, instructional books, etc. And so a post is born. This is an unusual post for me because it is not a project I have actually done — I’ve resisted posting those (for the most part) because I wanted my contributions to RM to be actual projects/issues/etc., that I am involved with. And why have I not done it? My 1920s house has plaster and lath walls (and quixotic placement of beams) and there is no way to tell where to attach brackets to the wall.
You’ve probably seen this idea before: rain gutters as bookshelves for children that display the cover art. Studies show that kids pick up more books (and presumably read them) from libraries when the covers face outward. But what about for adults?
- Here are a few ways to use a gutter for more grownup purposes:
- Affix one above your kitchen counters to hold open cookbooks and free up counter space for cooking prep.
- Cut some lumber to fit the open top and poof! Instant display shelf.
- Use it as a magazine rack, wherever you keep your copies of ReadyMade!
Plastic rain-gutters are sold in 10 ft. lengths for under $1 per foot, so they make a very inexpensive shelving alternative.
I told Shoshana Berger, the editor of ReadyMade, that I was sitting in my breakfast nook thinking about my next post and starring out the window, when I realized the post was staring back at me — the no-sew curtains I made. I made these a few years back, on literally, the hottest day of that year. So there I was with a steam iron in 100° + heat, making curtains in a sunroom. Which proves you can be crafty and not be clever, as my friend Xristim would say.
I hate those bland, beige roller shades — you know, the cheap ones you can have cut at any hardware store. Here’s my no-sew way to create custom window treatments using those off-the-shelf shades.
- Roller shade, cut to measure for your window
- Fabric of your choice — it should be light weight
- Double-sided iron-on interfacing
- Steam iron
- 2 rag towels, one over your ironing board to protect it, the other dampened to be a pressing cloth
- Unroll your shade, remove it from the roller tube, and measure it.
- Transfer the measurement to your fabric — but make the width a bit wider.
- Place the dampened towel over the fabric, and following the instructions from the interfacing manufacturer, iron on the interfacing on the backside of the fabric. It is important to leave the wax paper (or whatever the backing is) on the interfacing, or else it will stick to your ironing board and iron.
- Now remove the backing from the interfacing, and place the fabric over the vinyl shade so that the interfacing makes contact with the vinyl.
- Place the dampened towel over the fabric, and following the instructions from the interfacing packaging, iron it onto the vinyl.
- Trim the excess fabric so it fits the vinyl shade perfectly (because of the interfacing, it will not ravel), reattach it to the roller, and hang your custom window covering.
OK, I cheated: I missed my Sunday deadline — I completely forgot about it, so I posted this a day late. So sue me… but through the magic of WordPress, I am posting it today, on Sunday. Bwah-ha-ha…
Every cook will tell you, the trick is not where to store the pot, it is where to store the lid. Here’s an easy solution: the cheap and flimsy dish towel rack that your mother told you not to buy. I think I bought 4 of them for under $20.
There is a little bit of skill to this — you need to measure your cupboard door and buy a towel rack that fits your space. You need to place your pot lid so that it can be stored and removed easily, and not interfere with your shelf location. Be aware that raised panels make things a bit tricky, but still do-able. Work it out on paper before you start drilling holes.
These towel racks are also good to use as kitchen tool racks — hang them near the stove with a few s-hooks and hang up your tools. As compared to the fancy European tool racks (at $40+) this is a real savings.
OK – this is a true story, but with a twist: I dumped everything on the kitchen floor in my frustration, and still could not find the instant read thermometer. I gave up and went to the garage to get the BBQ out anyway, and while in there I stared at the pegboard on the walls, with all the tools so neatly (for me, anyway) put away, and it all snapped into place. A trip to the hardware store later, and about an hour of measuring and cutting, I had everthing all put away and was grinning like a moron, instead of like an idiot. My friends and family are used to my distractions, and the BBQ was a success.
As for the instant read thermometer? I had moved it to the coffee cup where I keep spoons, on the shelf above the stove!
It all began, as it always does around here, with a barbecue party.
I opened my kitchen drawer and could not find the instant read thermometer. If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t someone make a drawer organizer that works? So I did, and you can too. Here’s how:
- 1 quarter-sheet pegboard
- 4 dowels (that fit the pegboard’s holes)
- Self-stick rubber pad “feet” (3M company)
- Measure your kitchen drawers and transfer the measurement to the pegboard, and cut it out.
- Cut the dowels into small pieces to make pegs (mine were about two-inches tall).
- Attache the little rubber feet to the back of the pegboard. Besides preventing the pegboard from sliding, it also gives a little bit more clearance for the dowels when you push them in.
- Empty your drawers, insert the pegboard, and start arranging your tools, er, kitchen equipment.
Tip(s): I found that wrapping the dowels in masking tape made them easier to cut – and I could cut all four dowels stacked. The pegboard can easily be painted, if you want to add a more decorative element to the project. You can also paint the dowels another color to add decoration, or wrap them in colorful tape.
I really do get email feedback on the DIY projects I post for ReadyMade Magazine, and I am always trying to respond; the original post, “I’ve Been Framed” generated probably the most interest to date since the “Not Scrapbooking” post, including the editor from who wanted to have permission to use it. It is very flattering and gratifying when I hear from readers.
So, this is another framing/photoshop project, that is easier to do than the first one. I’m not really happy with the locking mechanism on the bottom, so I recommend using glue stick again. As for my model Eva, I am her proud uncle.
A few posts ago, I presented a way to make self-framing prints from your digital pictures. I received an email from a reader who liked the idea, but struggled with the cuts to make it work.
Here is an easier version that lets you use two images, so you can have pictures on two sides; one picture can face you, and one can face the person sitting on the other side of your desk, for instance.
- digital pictures on a hard drive
- The template I designed for you
- 8.5 x 11 inch photo paper or cardstock.
- Image editing application, like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements
- scissors and/or matt knife
- glue stick (optional, but recommended)
- Download the template.
- Use the background eraser tool to both pictures of the little girl. I find that using the Rectangular Marquee tool to select the area you want to erase first and then using the background eraser is the most accurate.
- Drag your pictures to another layer beneath the template. The hole where you erased the picture will allow you to position the image. Note that one image must be “standing on its head.” If you do not understand, look at the template to see what I mean.
- Print out the file, and trim away all the black bits.
- Using your matt knife, cut the little angles on what will be the bottom of the picture frame. This creates the locking mechanism on the bottom of the picture.
- Fold the image so that it forms a little tent, on picture on each of the two long sides.
- Slot the angles you cut earlier on the bottom into each other — they should lock, but I find using the glue stick here really helps.
You can make three picture frames from one 8.5 x 11 inch cardstock or printable photo-paper, to reduce waste.
This is a fun one — and anyone with basic tools can make it. I love Smith and Hawkins, but I am not ready to sell a kidney to buy one of their beautiful arches — so here is my homemade version. The vine growing up it is Cobea (sometimes called Mission Bells or Cup and Saucer Vine), it will have purple flowers dangling from it this fall (I hope). The vine is allegedly an annual, but I hear that in the bay area it actually is a perennial. The other end of the arch, I am training a cape fuschia plant — it has orange flowers (like a pomegranite), so if these two plants every get big enough and meet, there will be more color than when the lions were introduced to the Christians.
My tiny backyard lacked any kind of architectural detail, and my tiny budget lacked depth to do anything about it. And as the high-end garden catalogs continued to pour into my mail slot, each featuring several multi-hundred dollar garden arches, a plan began to form: a garden arch made of re-bar.
Re-bar is cheap (yay!), it bends easily, and if you like the rusted metal look (I do), then it makes for a happy project that you can complete in a weekend, easily.
Basically you want to create something that looks like a ladder made of re-bar and gently bend it into place. You must do this as a single rebar arch will just topple over. I won’t bother telling you how I know that…
The cross pieces (the ladder-like steps) are re-bar that you cut to length with a hack saw, and using wire, lash them onto the larger bars. I wanted the wire to look like the tendrils from a vine, so the ends were curled. This also keeps sharp point away from clumsy pedestrians, like me.
To mount the arch, pour concrete footings with a wooden pier sticking out of it, and let them dry overnight. Then use some plumbers tape to secure one end of the arch to the piers, and gently pull the other end to another set of piers and secure with more plumbers tape.
This is another project that started as a request from a reader/friend from the ReadyMade Forum. I’ll admit I am a packaging junkie, and always have been. My mother used to tell me that even as a little boy, I always played with the boxes the toys came in, rather than the toy itself. She said it used to annoy her, but she figured I would grow out of it someday.
Haha – I win again!
Recently, a lot of people have asked me to help them with point of sale displays for craft shows, especially for selling jewelry. Laying earrings out on a table does not show them off to their best advantage and is not very creative.
The point of sale display must meet certain criteria: it must be cheap, portable, and easy to store. This table top design meets those requirements, and I think is kind of fun.
- Computer with image editing software (like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements) and printer
- Scissors or matt knife
- Glue stick
- Hole punch
- Images of ears that you like
- Card stock or photo-stock paper – it must be heavy to work
- Download the template.
- Change my images to ones you like better — customize this design to make it your own.
- Fold along the dotted lines to make the base, and using the glue stick, secure the base to the back of the image. (Look at the picture above if you need some help visualizing this.)
- Using the hole punch, add whatever holes you want to the images of the ears and insert your earrings.
- Start selling!
As an alternate design, you could scale this down, and only have one pair of earrings on it, and give your customer the stand. Be sure to print your contact information on the bottom — like a business card — so if they want to buy from you again they can contact you.
This is an easy (and cheap) way to get all those pictures off of your hard drive, framed, and out for display.
The way this project started, I found an old traveling picture frame from my grandfather. They were these nifty folding frames that you could take with you on a trip, so you could look at someone special when you are away from home. Of course, the real ones were made from leather, but the design principle was the same. I added the ability to make the picture integral to the frame.
I hope everyone enjoys!
The problem with digital pictures is that to see one, you have to start up some device: a camera, a computer, a mobile phone. Everyone I know has a ton of pictures stored on a hard drive (somewhere), and very few pictures to actually look at now and then. Sure, you can print them out — but then what? Photo albums keep them hidden away, and picture frames from the store cost a lot if you want to display many pictures.
Here is a simple way to make your digital pictures self-framing.
- digital pictures on a hard drive
- The template I designed for you
- 8.5 x 11 inch photo paper or cardstock.
- Image editing application, like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements
- scissors and/or matt knife
- glue stick
- Download the template.
- Use the background eraser tool to remove the picture of my dog. I find that using the Rectangular Marquee tool to select the area you want to erase first and then using the background eraser is the most accurate.
- Drag your picture to another layer beneath the template. The hole where you erased the picture will allow you to position the image.
- Print out the file, and trim away all the black bits.
- Using your matt knife, cut out the red square, carefully. The white part you leave behind becomes the “frame” for the picture.
- Fold the image so that it sits behind the frame.
- Glue and fold the wings on the frame to secure the image behind the frame.
- Fold at the other lines, and using the glue stick, glue the tab to the back of the image.
You can make three picture frames from one 8.5 x 11 inch cardstock or printable photo-paper, to reduce waste.
The catalogs I get in the mail always feature outdoor candle lights that cost $35 or more, and accept only a tea-light candle, which do not shed enough light to be useful. However, they are fine if your goal is to spear your dinner partner with a fork in the dark.
A couple of years ago I was at BBQ party and the hosts had these candle lanterns hanging from the walnut tree in the center of the backyard — and the lanterns provided a lot of light. The hurricane chimney is easy to find at most hardware stores (mine has them for $0.99), and the candles can drip into the sand – have no worries about wrecking your table.
- Clay saucer
- Clean, damp sand
- Hurricane chimney
- Candle (make sure it is shorter than the top of the hurricane glass; I use something called “utility candles” — they seem to be the perfect size)
- Heavy twine (optional)
- Flowers (optional)
You can make these lanterns more special by arranging flowers in the damp sand around the hurricane chimney to make a centerpiece. Two or three of these on your table makes for a really special glow.
Using heavy twine, you can hang these to have more room on your table:
Use 3 strands of twine at least three feet long — you don’t want the twine to catch fire. Tie the twine in a knot at both ends and balance the saucer with sand, hang, and then add the candle and the hurricane chimney.
Some notes not on the RM post: I’ve used these lanterns for years — they really work well. I wanted to include a shot of one hanging for the post, but we’ve been having unseasonal rain today, and I could not get a break in the storm to hang one and get a picture. I highly recommend hanging a lot of them, not just for more light, but for dramatic effect. And as they are truly cheap to make, why not?
This was a really fun project, but it took a while to develop. ReadyMade featured it in the Love Issue (issue 20), but did not give instructions on how to make it, or contact information for the designer.
At any rate, I worked on it throughout the week, snatching bits of time to think it through, but it really came down to prototyping. I’ve mentioned it before, but i am terrible with scissors, and so each time I printed it out and cut it out, I got different results. I finally got out the matt knife, ruler, and cutting matt – and indeed everything worked OK.
…So, I hope that it is well received. Let me know if you have any questions or comments. I’m always happy to hear from “my reader.”
A couple of weeks ago I posted how to make a paper sleeve for your mix CD. That was a good first step in making a special gift. This week, I will show you how to make a label for the CD itself.
Please read the rest of the post at ReadyMade.
I really hope everyone likes this project — it was a lot of fun to design it. I originally tried to upload pre-designed templates in both Photoshop and Illustrator so everyone could download files to work with, but the virus protection software on the server would not allow it. So… I hope that the JPEG and instructions will be clear enough. If you need some help, send me a comment, or ask for help in the RM Forums.
I love making mix CDs for friends. I usually try to come up with a theme and find music that fits the theme, like Hawaiian music for a Tiki party; my favorite thing is to find bands that “cover” someone else’s work — and then try to assemble an all-cover album — a tribute to the original band, I guess. But what makes it an over-the-top gift is when you take the time to make some great packaging for the CD. The devil, as they say, is in the details.
Here’s how to do it.
- Image editing software (like PhotoShop or PhotoShop Elements, Adobe Illustrator, or so on)
- Printer photo-paper or card-stock
- Glue Stick
- Download the template I made for you.
- Open it up in your favorite image editing tool.
- Import the artwork you want to be on the cover on a separate layer. Add a title, too.
- On the backside, you will need to flip the text for the list of tracks, so that when it is folded and glued, the text will be right side up. Here is an example:
- Print out your packaging (use photo-paper if is is graphically intensive, or at least card-stock to protect the CD).
- Cut out the packaging, fold, and glue the flaps inside.
- Insert the CD you burned… and give it to your friend with a big smile.
For anyone who is wondering about my ReadyMade post for tomorrow… you can read the post here. It is about how to create your own Andy Warhol art, with links to various places with instructions, such as The Andy Warhol Museum and an excerpt from a Photoshop book, Adobe Photoshop Creative Studio that the publishers put online.
I went to two different bookstores today, looking for this book — I really liked this tutorial a lot. I think my Buffy came out really well.
I know that this is an old idea, but it still strikes me as being fresh, and this is perhaps the most evolved and professional-looking version of the
PostIt Note pixilation technique I have ever seen. You can read the article here. There is a great tutorial, so anyone can play at home.