2.23.2012

St. Patrick's Day Interchangeable Frame

Over the last year or so I've gradually been collecting ornaments for my interchangeable holiday frame.  Yesterday I spent a few minutes and put something together for St. Patrick's Day. 



I bought the ornaments at JoAnn's on sale.


Then I hung them from the nails and added some ribbon from my stash. 


 I tucked the ends under the frame and taped it to the back (because it won't be seen) and it was done!


The frame is just an in-expensive frame from the dollar store.  You can read all about it here:

Tutorial for making an Interchangeable Holiday Frame



 
Fall/Autumn Frame                                 Christmas/Winter Frame

I keep all of the ornaments in a decorative box (pictured below) right by the frame for easy access.


Quick.Simple.Fun

Today's Fabulous Find...St. Patrick's Day Frame


 





 
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2.19.2012

St. Patrick's Day Subway Art and NEW Free Printables Menu

For quite some time now it's been my intention to make up a menu for the free printables available here at Today's Fabulous Finds, and another menu for projects.   The free printables menu is finally done, but the project menu is still coming along ever so slowly. 

The first part of the menu has links to a subway art print for every major holiday and season.  One of the prints is for St. Patrick's Day. 


It, and all of the other subway prints, is available in an assortment of colors because I can never choose just a few. ;)



Other parts of the menu include prints that I've designed as well as links to prints that I've featured. 




To view these projects and more if you're viewing this post in a reader/e-mail, click the link below.

By the way, I trimmed my wheat grass down for the first time yesterday and it smelled just like a newly cut lawn!   It was such a welcome distraction from the gloomy weather outside.  

 Hope your weekend is going well!  

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2.15.2012

Flushing Toilet (Valentine Box)

My son wanted a funny Valentine box for his class party, so he made a toilet (with my help).  A toilet is not a toilet though without it's flush, so we gave it one!


You can hear for yourself, here's a quick video of my son demonstrating how his Valentine box works.
Click here if you are viewing this in a reader or through e-mail to view the video.

video


My kids have had a lot of fun with this and I'll admit, I have a hard time walking by it myself without giving it a quick flush, ha-ha!


I had to call around to several places before I found a pre-wired 20 second digital voice recording module at Radio Shack that I could record the flush with.   It was more than I would normally spend on an item for a Valentine box ($11.00), but since this is the last year he'll make a box, I just went for it and splurged this time.  My first idea was to use a greeting card that you can record a message to, but I couldn't find one that didn't end with a song.


Supplies:
  • Pre-wired 20 second digital voice recording module from Radio Shack
  • Ice cream bucket (we ended up using a round one)
  • Small (white) box the size of a water tank
  • Foam Board
  • Packing and Duct Tape
  • Scissors
  • Utility Knife
  • White Spray Paint
  • 2 Large Bolts and Nuts (or wood to hold them in place)
  • Pencil and paper to make a pattern for the lid and seat



I'm not going to go into too much detail in directions because it's pretty simple to put together when you look at the pictures, but I do have a few tips for you:  

We used paint sticks to hold the bolts in place because it's what we had that would work, nuts would work best. 

Be VERY CAREFUL when you attach the voice recording module, the wires are fragile and will break easily, so try not to move them.  You might want to tape them in place so they don't move.

The seat lid is held on with clear packing tape.  Taping it on the underside of the lid to the top of the seat will help the lid to stay up on it's own

Use the sandpaper to clean up and round the edges of the foam board.
When you record the flushing sound, hold the recorder down low (just past the seat) inside the bowl to get the best sound.  Try not to think about what you're doing.

Cut holes in the box and for the button and the speaker.  Tape the module to the inside of the box.

  
The black circle on the top of the 'tank' is the speaker.  It's taped to the box

  
My son drilled through the ice cream bucket and into the box, pushed the bolt through and then threaded it through a pre-drilled piece of wood (paint stick).  We used a scrap piece of foam board and taped it under the box as a stand so the toilet wouldn't tip back from the weight of the box.
  

I promise you this is the only time I'll ever write an entire post about a toilet, and hey, I spared you from all of the toilet jokes too!  Can't say I wasn't a little tempted to sneak a couple in though. ;)

Today's Fabulous Find...Digital Recording Module from Radio Shack 
(Without it, it would have been just another toilet box.)




 *Have you checked back to see how the wheat grass is growing?
Click here to see how tall it's grown! 

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2.11.2012

Rustic Wood Planter--Watch with me as the [wheat] grass grows!

Hi there!  I've got another really cheap upcycle project to show you--my very favorite kind (you probably knew that already).  I need about 10 to 12 centerpieces for a church dinner in March.  The challenge is always to get the most 'bang for our buck'.  Through my searches I found myself drawn to wheat grass centerpieces with rustic wood boxes. 

There are so many advantages of using wheat grass centerpieces, not only do they bring life and color to the table, but they can be made for just a few dollars (or less) depending on what you have on hand.  You can't buy nice wood planters for anywhere close to that price (if you can even find them this early in the year in your area).


Just like the paint stick crate I made last year, there are endless possibilities of what you could fill this box with.  Click here for a few ideas.

I took a walk around Lowe's in search of the cheapest rustic wood that I could find that would make a good planter.  The winning piece was a 1"x4"x6'  (really measures 3 1/2" wide) dog eared cedar fence slat for $1.09.  You can make one 4 1/2" x 18" box out of just one slat.

Supplies:
  • 1 dog eared cedar fence slat--1" x 4" x 8' (It really measures 1/2" x 3 1/2" x 6'.) 
  • Miter Box and Saw
  • Wood Glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Tape Measure
  • Staple gun and Staples (or small tacks)
  • Clear Plastic (can use a shower curtain liner from a dollar store)
  • Hammer and Nails ( 1 5/8", Ring Shank, Dark Brown )
  • Dark Walnut Stain (optional) and a rag



Directions:

1.  Measure, mark, and cut three 18" pieces from the slat.  Measure from the straight end of the slat, the dog-eared end can be used to make a square box if you are making multiple boxes, so you might want to save it.

2.  Line up the three pieces, one for the bottom, two for the sides.

3.  Line the remainder of the uncut slat up to the end of the boards, making it flush with one side.  Mark it and cut.

4.  Run a line of glue along the side of the bottom.  Line up the side (using the other side underneath it to balance it) and hammer into place.  Repeat for the other side (using one of the ends to balance it).

5.  Run a line of glue around the ends of both sides and hammer on the ends of the box, make sure you stagger the nails.

6.  You can stop right here if you want a natural look, or you can stain it.  I used a rag and Minwax Dark Walnut stain on this box. 



To line it with plastic for use as a planter, push the plastic down into the box and fold the ends much like you'd fold the ends of a wrapped gift.  Trim the plastic down if needed, fold the ends under, and staple or tack in place. 

Please note:   There is a strong possibility that when you water the grass, some of the water will trickle in-between the plastic and the wood and leak through the box (remember this is a rustic box).  Don't set it on something nice that could be ruined if it gets wet.  If you are using it outside, it would be a good idea to drill a couple of holes in the bottom of the box for drainage.

From what I've read wheat grass only needs about 2 1/2" of soil to grow.  I took some of the dirt out of the box after I took these pictures to lower the soil level.  I want the roots of the grass to be hidden by the box so only the pretty green is showing.  I'm hoping this will work.  Also, on the next boxes I plant, I'll put in a layer of sand or small rocks under the soil for drainage purposes.



This is my first time growing wheat grass, but it seems (again from what I've read) that it's pretty hard to mess it up.  These are the steps I've followed up to this point (the end of day three).

1.  I soaked the wheat (some call them berries, others called them seeds) overnight (8-12 hours) in a bowl of water.  The wheat swelled up and doubled or tripled in size.

[Edited to add:  You can buy the wheat in the bulk food section at a grocery or organic food store.  The variety I used is called hard red wheat.  It's the same wheat that you would buy to grind into wheat flour.]

2. I poured some water over the soil in the planter so it was wet but not soggy, drained the water from the bowl of wheat, and spread the wheat over the dirt.  I put it on pretty thick so I'm watching it to make sure it isn't so thick that it will grow mold instead of grass.



3.  To keep the wheat damp, I sprayed it every so often with a squirt bottle, I think I watered it three times today (day three). 

In the picture above you can see where I covered it with a piece of cardboard.  Some say to cover it for the first two days, but I had extra wheat leftover in the bowl that was uncovered and it sprouted at the same time if not sooner, so next time I won't bother to cover it with cardboard.  I did cover it with some saran wrap today though once I saw little sprouts.  I think this help some to keep the wheat damp and the soil warm--we'll see! :)  Update:  The next morning it was starting to grow mold so I won't cover it with saran wrap next time.

So now as I'm writing this, I'm moving into day 4.  Supposedly I'll have nice tall grass by day 8 or 10.  (Right now that's hard for me to believe.)



I didn't want to be the only one having all the fun, so I'll be posting a picture each day (except Sunday) on my sidebar to show you how much it grows each day.  We can all literally 'sit around and watch the grass grow' together.  And If I fail...well then you'll know what not to do. :)

Have you had success growing wheat grass?  Any tips for me?

 Today's Fabulous Find...Rustic Wheat Grass Planters

Update:I've decided not to stop the post here.  I'll continue to add pictures each day to show you how the wheat grass does and share anything that I've learned along the way.  So onto the morning of day four...


Yep, that's mold you see there.  I was so disapointed when I checked on the wheat grass this morning and saw it.  I think it was probably a combination of over-watering and the saran wrap so I took the saran wrap off and held back on the watering.  I used to start my flowers for my yard from seeds and have had this happen before.  The flowers ended up growing fine, so I think there's still hope for the wheat grass.


You can see that by evening the mold wasn't as bad.  It's exciting to see little green shoots coming from the wheat!  I imagine if we'd had a sunny day today we would have seen even more growth.

I'll post day five on Monday.  Do you think it will make it to an inch tall by then?  Hmmm... ;)
 
Oh, and these are a couple of my inspiration photos. 

source
source

Day five was overcast and cloudy (we didn't see any sunshine all day) yet the grass managed to grow--take a look!



Day six:  It's amazing what a little bit of sun can do for a plant, the grass nearly tripled in height today.  My kids were amazed at how tall it had grown just while they were away at school.  They like to run their hands over it now and let it tickle their palms.  I LOVE the color of new green grass. :)




Day Seven:  I took a picture today in the afternoon because I wanted you to see how beautiful the color is.  It really is this green!   My kids now run their hands over the grass every time they walk into the room.  I feel like we've cheated mother nature and spring has come early.  I LOVE it!


Day Eight:  It continues to grow and is even fuller than the day before.  The grass blades have widened at the top and are full and thick.


Day nine:  The grass is to it's optimal height today and would be just the right height to use for a centerpiece or for decorating in the home.





From my experience, what I read is correct, wheat grass is very easy to grow and grows very quickly at just 8-9 days from start to finish.  Other than the mold scare on day four, it went really well.  I learned to touch the soil with my finger to see if it needed water.  If it was still damp, I waited to water it for awhile.

I highly recommend giving this a try, especially if you live in a colder climate and are ancy for Spring.  :)

Update: 
In response to a comment:  Yes, you can trim it and will need to several times through the life of the grass. I just use scissors and 'give it a haircut'. Sometimes I take it outside, but if it's cold I just hold it over the garbage. The first box that I planted was ready to be thrown out on day 21, so it was green for around 2 weeks, but I think I over-watered it. The second set of boxes that I planted are on day 15. I'm keeping track to see if they do any better. A friend planted some in a deep pot and it has lasted for several weeks. I'm wondering if it's because it has more depth for the roots. The roots in the boxes eventually become so bound, that I think it stunts the growth of the grass, but I'm in no way an expert on the subject, so I could very well be wrong. :)


Click here for Wheat Grass Part 2:  Growing Wheat grass on paper towels!




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