Highchair Tray to Shabby Chic Sign

While scouting around taking photos of abused farmland a couple of months ago I found this plastic highchair tray next to a truck highway.

hazel-sign-1

Tire marks all over it… and normally I don’t like working with plastic, but I did love the shape and thought it had sign potential. I just had to figure out a way to disguise the plastic aspect.

So I applied two coats of thick homemade chalk paint, which gave it a nice plaster kind of feeling.

hazel-sign-2 Then I tore up a scrap  of wallpaper I rescued from behind a paint and wallpaper store. I applied it with a generous coat Modge Podge (although not so generous around the edges).

Several of the strips were bent over the edge of the surface with the aim of creating the effect that the entire piece had once been covered.

hazel-sign-3

The sign is going to be for a little girl’s bedroom. I used my home computer to choose the font and size I want and printed it off. Then used artist’s tracing paper (carbon paper or graphite paper) to trace the lettering onto the sign.

Because some parts of the lettering are very narrow and I have rapidly aging eyes, I used a fine point Sharpie to fill in the letters.

hazel-sign-3b

Then it was time to sand to further the aged & distressed look. Mostly I used a sanding block, but on the edges of the sign I used the dull edge of a butter knife – and selectively.

The sanding block was old and kinda grubby – which gave the paper edges a more convincing aged look.  Notice in some places I left the edges of the paper curled – again, to look more convincingly aged.

The lettering didn’t sand effectively- an important different between ink and  paint, I guess. Note to self.

hazel-sign-4

Nature’s Spider Repellants: Horse Chestnuts

It’s autumn and with the crisp, fresh air and trick-or-treaters comes the annual invasion of spiders into our homes.

The link between indoor insecticides and blood cancers in children reported by the Harvard School of Public Health in 2015  should be of concern to us all.  of

I understand that spiders are an extremely beneficial insect, but if I’m footing the bills I want to have some say over roommates. And since infancy I’ve had a major aversion to spiders.

Now, there is always the catch-and-release approach, or the tissue-to-toilet disposal method, but there is a way to vastly diminish the number of spiders in our homes without either chemicals or confrontation.

Simply place a few Horse Chestnuts at the foot of door jams on doors leading outside and on windowsills and you should see far fewer, if any spiders. Be sure to replace them each autumn.

The good news is that if you know someone who has a Horse Chestnut tree, they’ll likely welcome you to take all you want. They present challenges.

The outer shell usually opens and releases the chestnut shortly after it falls to the ground and then quickly breaks down. But until then they are spiky and a bit dangerous for children and pets galloping around the yard..

The chestnuts themselves are very slippery – especially when wet – and present their own potential hazards on a busy lawn or walkway.

Don’t get me wrong. The trees are worth it. They are spectacular to look at and the spikes of scented blossoms in May are dizzyingly lovely.

A friend’s sixth grader has to come up with something he can make and sell each year at his school’s Christmas craft fair. In an effort to get him to consider selling Horse Chestnuts I picked a sack full.

Then I scrounged around the house for materials to create this display.

horsechestnuts6

horsechestnuts4

horsechestnuts2

horsechestnuts3

horsechestnuts5

horsechestnuts4

 

Handmade Ribbon

Strips of torn cotton make beautiful, rustic ribbon for gifts or flowers.

Strips of torn cotton make beautiful, rustic ribbon for gifts or flowers.

When our office date stamp reached the end of years (2014) it was headed for the trash bin. But I saw a new opportunity.

When our office date stamp reached the end of years (2014) it was headed for the trash bin. But I saw a new opportunity.

By removing the year altogether, I had a stamp that can be used to personalized hand-made ribbon for any day of the year.

By removing the year altogether, I had a stamp that can be used to personalized hand-made ribbon for any day of the year.

For Valentine's Day I tore long strips of cotton and hand stamped Feb 14 from one end to the other. I wanted a handmade, irregular look so I just eyeballed rather than measuring the spacing.

For Valentine’s Day I tore long strips of cotton and hand stamped Feb 14 from one end to the other. I wanted a handmade, irregular look so I just eyeballed rather than measuring the spacing.

On one of the strips I left it in the simple black date, but on a second strip I employed a heart-shaped stamp I picked up at a thrift store.

On one of the strips I left it in the simple black date, but on a second strip I employed a heart-shaped stamp I picked up at a thrift store.

In addition to days like Valentine's Day, handmade ribbon can be stamped with dates of family and friends' birthdates, weddings, etc.

In addition to days like Valentine’s Day, handmade ribbon can be stamped with dates of family and friends’ birthdates, weddings, etc.