My Son's Father's Day Present

My son was due for a haircut, but I stalled until this morning.

And this is what I was waiting for ...

Yes, I trimmed the letters DAD into the back of my son's hair. He loved it. Sort of. At first he thought it was great, but as we were heading out for breakfast, he got embarrassed and suddenly didn't want to be seen.

So I went the tried and true method -- bribery. I told him I'd give him 25 cents for any comment anyone made about his haircut. After the first $1, he was totally on board, suddenly craning his neck in odd directions so that anyone might notice. And when he went to the pool later in the day and he got his hair wet, it stood out even more! And you can bet he heard and counted every comment.

Of course, Dad was all over it from the beginning. And totally surprised, I'm happy to say. His pleasure was written all over his face -- literally!

Mission accomplished.

Then I took my son outside and took a few pics with his new haircut. It's nothing original, except that we didn't have anything like it. I'm really not good about staged portraits. And my son is no help either. But we managed.

After a little photoshop-ing, I ran to have this layout printed in time to be given today...

Dad is happy, son is happy, mom is happy -- life is good!

Be sure to check out the endless list of inspirational ideas at my home page

I'll be linking to some of the fabulous link parties listed on the right sidebar ... but really, that's a LOT of parties! I probably won't get to them all, but you should stop in and visit a few yourself.
While you're at it, stop by my home page and add a few links there too!

The Bane of the Midwest in June

Heat? No. Humidity? No.


Doesn't this make for a lovely garden photo? My roses all look like this. And the leaves look like Swiss cheese. It's so disheartening! And the season is just starting.

So what to do about them? Well you could purchase and put up a beetle trap. It's a little plastic frame that holds a bag, and you insert a hormone packet. The beetles are attracted to the hormones, fly up and bounce off the plastic frame and fall into the bag. It's effective and good for a couple of gallons of bugs in one season. But there is a debate among many gardeners as to whether the hormones actually attract more bugs than would have invaded your garden in the first place. I usually get one and put it "away" from my garden, so it does it's job but not right in the middle of everything that I don't want them eating.

Someone the other day told me that she mixes a dish pan of soapy water, then "shakes" the beetles into it, where they get stuck and drown.

I'm guessing there are some insecticides that work at least somewhat, though I've heard they're very resistant to insecticides, and spraying is always a last resort for me.

But I have another option that I put together a couple of years ago that is also very effective. It's a manual method, but rather satisfying when you finish with a bagful of the nasty beasties. I've shared the idea with a few people and they loved it, even telling me I should patent the idea. But I've always said that if I ever came up with an alternative energy source (as if!), I would release it immediately onto the internet to benefit the world in general. This is sort of like that -- er, you know, if you squint and cross your eyes. Point is, I'd rather benefit others than horde the idea for financial gain. Besides, I made it with materials that everyone has in their recycle bin, and how would one patent that?

So anyway, follow along and I'll show you how to make a Japanese Beetle catcher. (I need a catchy name for it. Got any ideas?)

You'll need a plastic milk jug, rinsed.

Use a sharp knife to cut a slice around the bottom of the milk jug, about an inch from the bottom, going 3/4 of the way around.

You should end up with one side still intact. That side should be a side next to the handle.

I'm right-handed, so when the milk jug is upside-down (which is how it will be positioned when finished,) the hinged side is just to the right of the handle.

Next, you'll want to put a handle on the bottom. Punch a couple of holes in the bottom on opposite sides, parallel to the hinge.

Now poke your handle through the holes and secure. I used an extra-long twist tie. You could use twine, wire, a plastic strip from another recycled container, etc.

Next, you need to secure a plastic bag to the pour spout.

I used another twist tie. Rubber bands work well too. You want to use something that holds the bag securely, but is also removable/replaceable, as you'll be changing out the bag when full.

My son will demonstrate how to use the catcher (name, need a cool name....) He's also right-handed, so he holds the handle of the milk jug in his left hand. His right hand is positioned on the top (bottom) through the twist tie handle, operating the hinge of the trap.

It's important to operate the hinge straight, to get the tightest seal.

Closing the hinge crooked will allow a hole for the beasties to escape.

So, using the hinging motion, my son positions the jug over an infested rose bud....

... then smoothly closes the hinge over the branch of the rosebush, effectively enclosing the rose but not damaging the plant.

It's not a swift motion, and you don't want to "snap" the trap closed. You want to perform the movement without disturbing the plant any more than necessary, thereby alerting the bugs on the other flowers. Enclosing the bud is usually enough to disturb the insects from their perch on the flower inside the jug.

The beetles have a reflexive reaction of "dropping" from the rose, then flying away -- if they could anyway. Instead, they fall off the rose into the milk jug, then funnel down through the pour spout into the bag. And they're TRAPPED!!!

Within a few minutes, my son had captured hundreds of beetles -- hundreds of breeding beetles that won't be laying their eggs for next year. I know it's a drop in the bucket, but I'm happy to contribute what I can. Plus, I can match what the hormone trap does in a week in only about 15 minutes, and not be attracting more beetles to my garden in the process.

Note: Be careful not to snag the bag on the lower branches and rip the plastic, inadvertently releasing your catch.

When you're done trapping, simply dispose of the bag of beetles. I'm never a fan of causing any living thing to suffer, though I'm sorely tempted when it comes to a plague such as this. But a fairly quick and environmentally friendly method is to simply drown them in the plastic bag you trapped them in.

I hope you'll give this a shot, and share the idea with others. It works fabulously and any little bit helps. Plus, it's a great way to re-purpose your recyclables!

Be sure to check out the endless list of inspirational ideas at my home page

I'll be linking to some of the fabulous link parties listed on the right sidebar ... but really, that's a LOT of parties! I probably won't get to them all, but you should stop in and visit a few yourself. While you're at it, stop by my home page and add a few links there too!

Paper Baseball Caps

I'm happy to report that my dressed-up Graduation Bottle was a real hit at the graduation party. If you have any current graduates in your circle of friends, I suggest you give it a try.

It was so much fun to do that the idea has been rattling around in my mind ever since. There's just something cheerful about putting a hat on an inanimate object and humanizing it a bit. Sort of like putting eyeballs on produce, or faces on eggs.

So with my son's baseball season in full swing, the next obvious hat of choice for me was a baseball cap. And the bottle options to top them with are wide open. So I whipped up the estimates, threw together a prototype, and this is what I came up with. Follow along if you'd like to make some yourself. They're really quite simple.

Initially, I sat down to experiment with the template. I started with a rectangular piece of paper that was 8" long and a little over 2" wide.

I cut out a curved "tooth" pattern, then punched a small hole in the tip of each "tooth."

I picked a brad that was an appropriate size and fed it through each of the holes as I gathered the points together, until I had secured all of the points in the center.

I secured the brad, glued the tab at the cuff of the cap, and arranged the panels.

Then I started working with the brim of the cap. After cutting out the brim, I applied some glue to the tabs and positioned them inside the front of the cap.

I was pretty pleased with the prototype, but decided to make just a few adjustments for the final design. For one thing, I realized that most baseball caps have 6 panels, not 8. Also, I wanted it to look more like a baseball cap, rather than a farmer's hat (the taller ones.)

If I had taken any engineering in school, I probably would have known the rules of physics involved with adjusting my template, but since that wasn't my area of study, I just had to go with trial and error. For example, I found that lengthening the teeth made for a taller hat. Sharpening the angle of the teeth left gaps. Rounding the angle of the teeth made the hat more flat, like a beret. Anyway, I eventually came up with something I'm pleased with, and I'll file all the rest of the experimenting under "learning experience."

So this is the template ready for you to use, with either 8 panels or 6 panels, and a cap brim that will work for either one.

Begin by printing out the template. I started with a printed template that was about 8" long.
I found that paper was too thin and felt was too flimsy, but cardstock worked really well. I haven't tried craft foam yet, though I believe it would probably be too bulky on this small of a cap. Craft foam would probably work great if you decided to make larger caps.

First, carefully cut out the "teeth."

Punch a small hole in the tip of each point.

Begin gathering the tips together, lining up the punched holes.

Insert a brad into the holes to secure the points in the center.

Continue until all the points are secured.

Spread the tips of the brad to secure in place. Do this loosely at first so you can continue to adjust the panels as needed. Also, if your brad is long, you might need to curve the ends of the brad to prevent it from distorting the shape of the cap.

Overlap the tab at the end of the strip of paper and glue it in place to complete the ring of the cap.

Adjust the panels as necessary, tighten the brad, and you should have something that looks like this.

Next, cut out the brim of the cap.

Fold the tabs back to the guideline.

Apply glue to the tabs only.

Align the brim with the front of the cap and press the tabs in place inside the cap.

And with that step, your cap is complete! Isn't that simple?

The 8-panel and the 6-panel are very similar, so it's really just a matter of personal preference, though I believe the 6-panel is more typical of real-size design.

Just put a spot of tape or glue inside the cap and it's ready to be placed on your bottle of choice.

You can also personalize the caps by printing something on the front panel, like the team name or logo, or a player's number. I would suggest you do this to the template before you even print it.

The template can be adjusted to make any size cap. So you can do really small ones to place over a Reese's cup to use as a party favor, or larger ones to use to hang from the ceiling for party decorations. In fact, I'm sure there's an endless list of purposes for this and I would dearly love to hear yours. So please share your comments so others can see too.

And be sure to check out the endless list of inspirational ideas at my home page

I'll be linking to some of the fabulous link parties listed on the right sidebar ... but really, that's a LOT of parties! I probably won't get to them all, but you should stop in and visit a few yourself.
While you're at it, stop by my home page and add a few links there too!

Recycled Votives

I've probably mentioned it before, but I have a real affinity for trash-to-treasure projects, especially recycling projects. A few weeks ago, I showed you how to make a plant label out of an aluminum can and wire coat hanger. Since the remnants of that project were still on my desk, (** she admits with a blush of embarrassment **) I decided to continue on the same theme, this time including a plastic water bottle.

So I gathered my supplies and tools, which included a water bottle, an aluminum can, tin-snips, scissors and a paper crimper. I also needed some sand and a tea light candle.

I started by removing the label and cutting the plastic bottle below the curve of the neck. This particular water bottle was very flimsy and could easily be cut with scissors.

Next, I took the tin-snips and cut off the top and bottom of the can, leaving a sheet of "flat" metal. This is not particularly difficult, but not a step that should be attempted by younger children. I'd even advise that you wear protective glove. Once the aluminum has been cut by scissors, it doesn't have as sharp an edge, and it's even better after it's been run though the crimper.

I laid the sheet on a flat surface with the printed side facing up.

Next I used a marker to draw guidelines on the metal. I wanted various widths, plus I wanted to experiment with some hole-punching effects.

I had hoped that my shaped paper punches would work on the aluminum, but they were too weak. My standard hole punch worked great though, just like punching cardstock.

Next, I rolled the punched piece of metal through my crimper. This worked very well, again just like a piece of cardstock. If you mess up, you can just feed it through again.

The metal comes out looking like mini corrugated roofing.

Next, I traced and cut an oval just like the plant label, except instead of punching one hole at the top, I punched two small holes, one at each side.

Using a non-marking pen, I wrote onto the label, pressing firmly. This would also look great with the blackening effect used on the stamped washers.

Then I threaded a piece of twine through the holes, leaving excess in back and on both sides.

I set the label aside while I prepared the bottle. I glued a piece of the corrugated aluminum around the top edge of the cut bottle, positioning it to hide the raw edge of the plastic bottle.

The aluminum doesn't reach all the way around the bottle, so I covered the gap with the prepared label. I glued the label in place over the gap and tied the twine around the bottle for decoration.

I wanted to hang something from the ends of the twine. I thought beads would look good, but I didn't have anything that had a hole large enough to fit the twine. I think this would look good with mini pine cones for a fall project.

I decided to go with the trendy washers, and just tied them to the end of the twine.

I poured some sand into the bottom of the bottle and inserted a tea light candle.

And this is what I had so far.

I liked it at this point, but the creative juices were still flowing.

So I took the top of the bottle and trimmed the edge.

The bottle top still had the cap, so I covered it with a strip of corrugated aluminum ...

... covering the sides of the white plastic cap.

Then I placed the bottle top upside-down into the bottle bottom. I added some more sand to the top and moved the candle from the bottom to the new top.

And this is what I ended up with. I really liked the end-result, except that the top rim was rather flimsy and seemed unfinished, so I added a thin trim of metal to the rim (see pics below.)

My son saw what I did and wanted to make one too. So he grabbed a Gatorade bottle from the recycling bin and we came up with this one. Gatorade bottles have a very nice pattern to the bottle sides. They're also a lot thicker so I opted to use a hack saw to cut the top off. The tough part was getting the first cut through the plastic, then it could be cut fairly easily with scissors.

They're a bit bigger than water bottles too, so the metal strips don't reach as far around. We just overlapped with a second strip and tied the ends with some twine.

I liked the effect of the sand, but it also serves the purpose of weighting down the bottles, since they're so lightweight otherwise. Alternatively, you could use pebbles, glass beads, marbles, etc.

You could also do a more colorful theme, and even have the printed side of the can facing outward. And since the candle is sealed on the top, you could fill the lower portion of the bottle with colored water.

So next time you refresh yourself with a bottled beverage, save the container and create one of these conversation pieces to "brighten" your home!

NOTE!!! Because of the flammable nature of the plastic, the candles should be burned with caution. I would recommend treating them with the same precaution as you would the paper bag luminaries that many people use to light their sidewalks and driveways for the holidays.

And be sure to check out the endless list of inspirational ideas at my home page


I'll be linking to some of the fabulous link parties listed on the right sidebar...
but really, that's a LOT of parties! I probably won't get to them all, but you should stop in and visit a few yourself.