How to Make Tree Branch Hooks

After I had made three Stacked Wood Christmas Trees, I had a large pile of discarded branches that were too big for the chipper and too small to make more stacked trees. Though some of the “V” shaped sections would have made excellent sling shots, I settled on the more mundane project of making tree branch hooks.

The Car Guy searched his stash of things he might need some day, and found some wood that I could use to make a frame. I chose to make one with an interior dimension of 8 by 20 inches (20.32 by 50.8 cm). Once the wood pieces were cut, we used a T-square to make the corners square, and an air gun nailer to quickly assemble the frame. (The Car Guy insisted on the T-square, because the way I was going at it, the frame was going to be really lopsided…)

I selected tree branches that had forks of about 45 degrees. Then I used a chop saw to cut  the branches into 8 inch (20.32 cm) long sections. I tried to vary the position of the hooks so that they would be at random heights in the frame.

Once I had the hooks all laid out in the frame, we used the air gun nailer to secure them in place at both the top and the bottom.

woodworking tree branch frame

We attached nail hangers on the back – one near each end – to keep the frame level on the wall.

I was really pleased with the finished Framed Tree Branch Hooks. The project may not actually be very practical, but it is pleasingly rustic, and is a nice reminder of the types of trees we grow here at The Red House.

I have one more wood project on the go – a twig chair. I had high hopes of making all sorts of twig things, but the chop saw is a seriously spooky tool that I’m getting less fond of as the days go by…

What power tool do you enjoy using? What do you shy away from using?

How to Build a Stacked Wood Christmas Tree

We saw Stacked Wood Christmas Trees at The Cross Roads Collective in Invermere, British Columbia. The Car Guy said, “We could make one of those, you know”, and I thought, “Sure we could, but will we?”

Many months later, we made our first trees. This is a project, though, that actually took many years to come together. This is why, and here are the instructions:

1. I married a man who keeps everything.

2. We bought a cabin with copper pipe plumbing that ran under the open underbelly of the cabin. The pipes sometimes froze and split if we had hard frosts after we turned the water on for the season. The Car Guy changed out the pipes for flexible plastic tubing that didn’t burst as easily. He brought the copper pipes home, because he might need them some day.

4. The Red House needed a new deck. The Car Guy built one, and salvaged any good wood, because he might need it some day.

5. A heavy snowfall broke many branches off the trees around The Red House. The Car Guy and I piled all the wood up in various locations on our property – because we might need it some day.

Salvaged deck lumber

6. Some day eventually arrived.  The Car Guy used the salvaged deck lumber to build the X shaped bases for the Stacked Wood Christmas Trees.

Salvaged copper pipe

7. He cut 4 feet (1.2 meters) off one of the 3/4 inch (1.9 centimeter) pieces of copper tubing.  Then he drilled a hole in the center of his X-shaped base, and stuck one end of the copper tubing into the hole.

Drilled hole

8. Then The Car Guy taught me how to use the electric chop saw. I went to work cutting the long broken branches from the trees into shorter pieces. (The longest was 3.5 feet (1.1 meters).) When I had them cut up into the right lengths, The Car Guy drilled a hole in the middle of each branch with his drill press. (The Car Guy has an excellent selection of tools that he buys because he might need them some day.)

Stacking branches onto the pipe

9. I laid out the branches in the order I wanted to stack them, then ‘threaded’ them onto the copper pipe.

Stacked wood Christmas Tree

Ta Da! The completed Stacked Wood Christmas Tree.

I also made a star for the top. I cut 5 pieces of branch, equal lengths and laid them out in a 5 pointed star shape.  The Car Guy used his air gun nailer to tack them together, then we nailed it to the top  branch.

Measure twice and cut once – there’s no board stretcher in the tool kit.
– Author Unknown –

The words ‘Hoarded Ordinaries’ came to mind when I watched The Car Guy drag this and that out from here and there until he finally had all the components to make these trees.

What sort of things do you or your spouse ‘hoard’ and what unanticipated use did you finally make from the stash?

Origami Kusudama Flower Balls

Origami –  how difficult is it? Fold a piece of paper to form a peak, and you have a mountain fold. Fold it the opposite direction, and you have a valley fold. Make a couple of folds, then open them up a bit and squash them, and you have – tada – a squash fold.

Its just mountains and valleys…. How hard could it be?
– Unknown –

My youngest daughter has been making origami Kusudama flower balls. I asked her to teach me how.

We started with a trip to a Hobby Lobby to buy a package of 12 inch by 12 inch patterned paper, a stick of super sticky glue (double sided clear tape or a glue gun would work too), and some  long paper clips.

I would have bought a paper cutter if I didn’t already have one, because each sheet of 12 inch paper had to be cut into four 6 inch by 6 inch squares. If I had wanted smaller flowers, I could have cut the paper into smaller squares. For the project I had in mind, I needed to make 24 flowers. 5 petals per flower. 120 squares of paper.

black white

There are many websites and YouTube videos (see one link above) that explain how to fold each flower petal, but I’ll fast forward through that rather tedious process so I can display the flowers themselves. The photo above shows some of the petals in various stages of being joined to create a finished flower (which is the one in the centre of the photo.)

black and white

In the photo above, I’m almost finished one half of a Kusudama Ball. Six flowers form half a ball. I used the paper clips to hold the glued sections together until the glue dried.

black white

Once the half ball was finished, I attached it to a thick piece of black cardboard and mounted it in a frame.

I could have joined two half balls and made a full ball to hang from the ceiling.

The boredom of making 120 petals was relieved somewhat by the variety of papers I chose. If they had all been one colour, or solid colours, I might have abandoned the project!

I don’t suppose any of you have some half finished projects that were simply too boring to finish?!

I was going to start an origami business but was afraid it would fold.
– Unknown –

Those pics are paper-view…
– storm avoider –

Christmas Tangle 2014 – Tree Ornament

This holiday season, I wish you all the best gifts of life.
The gift of friendship,
the gift of hope,
the gift of love.
Have a Merry Christmas!

– Author Unknown –

May the Christmas season
fill your home with joy,
your heart with love,
and your life with laughter.

From Margy and The Car Guy

All my favourite holiday Quotations: Christmas Quotations

Woman Who Patented the Zigzag Stitch

Do you have a sewing machine? What is the first brand name that pops into your mind when you think about the zigzag stitch? If you said Singer – that company developed a commercial zigzag machine in 1892.

The first patent on a zigzag stitch machine, however, was many years before that. Helen Augusta Blanchard filed a patent in 1873.  Patent  #141,987 describes the ‘Improvement in Sewing Machines’ as:

The present invention relates to certain new and useful improvements in sewing-machines, having for their principal object the forming of an overstitch that may be adapted to either fine or coarse work. These improvements also consist in a device, arranged and operated as will be duly described, for varying the depth of the stitch, so as to be used for fine or coarse work, and of a device for disconnecting the operation of my improvements to allow the ordinary working of the machine for its customary sewing.

She applied for another Patent in 1874, #152721, which she said was ‘akin’ to her first patent.  Helen’s patents were for working machines. The model for the machine in her first patent is in the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.

Helen was born in Portland, Maine in 1840. She was a prolific inventor who patented 27 other inventions in her lifetime, including a surgical needle (in 1894). The biography of this remarkable women is found in the book “Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for a Revised History of Technology” by Autumn Stanley.

 I see that the path of progress has never taken a straight line, but has always been a zigzag course amid the conflicting forces of right and wrong, truth and error, justice and injustice, cruelty and mercy.
– Kelly Miller –

Here is the link to how other photographers interpreted this Photo Challenge: The Daily Post – Zigzag

iPad Draw Something! How to Make S’Mores – Traditional and Super Simple

TRADITIONAL S’MORES

Ingredients: graham wafers marshmallows chocolate bar or Nutella

Technique: First, the ideal marshmallow cooking stick must be found, and then whittled to the exact right point. The stick has to be brandished like a sword by a child (or someone who is child like) for a few minutes, until some mom says, “Put that stick down before you poke someones eye out!”

In the meantime, someone has to build a fire. Probably a number of someones – the paper bringers, the match finders, the log splitters, the kindling scroungers. Then there is a discussion of how best to stack the paper, wood and kindling. Once the fire is off and running, the ritual of telling stories, adding more wood, and poking the fire with a big stick, has to take place. When mom says, “Put that big stick down before you burn up the forest!” it is time to get out the marshmallows, and find the very pointy sticks again.

Once a marshmallow is skewered, they are slowly browned until they are golden on the ouside, and drippy goo on the inside. Alternately, the marshmallow can be burned to a crisp in just a few seconds. In addition to the Marshmallow Cookers, there is the Keeper of the Graham Wafers and Chocolate. This person will line up the graham wafer squares on a suitable surface. Alternate wafers will have a square of chocolate or a smear of Nutella put on it.

The Marshmallow Cooker presents the cooked marshmallow to the Keeper of the Graham Wafers, who will try to sandwich the marshmallow between two wafers without burning their fingers. (This ‘recipe’ for Traditional S’Mores is dedicated to the 305 families of Hidden Valley, Alberta who lost their community (and all their campfire rings) in the Floods of 2013.)

SUPER SIMPLE S’MORES

There are other simpler ways to make S’mores, of course. If you have a gas stove and a long handled fork, you are half way there! You can cook wieners that way too, though your mom may not like you doing that any more than my mom did when I was a kid.

 No gas stove? Well, there is always the Microwave Oven. Put the chocolate on one of the graham wafers and the marshmallow on the other. Pop it in the Microwave Oven for only a few seconds, then check to see if the marshmallow has started to melt. If not, microwave a few seconds more and continue until the marshmallow has expanded to about the size of the graham wafer.

Watch the chocolate too. You don’t want it to melt and run all over the place. Remove and make your chocolate marshmallow sandwich. Let it cool before eating. Each S’more will have about zmfxn calories and nbxz fat, sodium and sugar – but they are worth it.

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.
-Erma Bombeck –

What are your S’More memories?

Antelope Street Cabin in LEGO

Our cabin, along with 305 other residences in Hidden Valley Alberta, was destroyed in the flood of June 2013. All that is left of it is rubble, but we have many wonderful memories and hundreds of photos taken by our family – Antelope Street Photography.

I chose the name Antelope Street because that was the street where our cabin was. It was a gravel road that branched off the main drive. At that intersection it was a broad thoroughfare lined with grand old poplar trees and pretty little houses. By the time it got down to where our house was, however, it had narrowed somewhat. Past our place, it rambled on a bit further, then turned into a path that wandered down to the river.

I can’t begin to count how many times we all walked that road, either westward to the privacy and serenity of the river or eastward to join family and the community.

The spirit of the cabin lives on in the LEGO world, thanks to the thoughtful creativity of my youngest daughter! She has not only recreated the building,  she has captured the essence of the forest and of each of the five people who are our immediate family.

Meet the people: On the far left is our Youngest Daughter. With her nurses scrubs and hairless hairstyle (she survived chemo, but her hair didn’t) she was, and always will be the go-to gal for all our owies. Next to her is The Car Guy. Master of the BBQ,  he has a hot dog ready to grill. In the doorway of the cabin is our Eldest Daughter. With a Chef’s hat and a measuring cup in hand, she is the Queen of the Kitchen. The light haired lady is Me – note that my legs are shorter than any of the rest of the family. My wheelbarrow is nearby. To the far right is our Middle Daughter. Her long hair is in a pony tail and she has a cup of cabin coffee in her hand. She knows what fuels some members of this group in the morning!

The trim color of the cabin was a beautiful blue. The main entry into the cabin was a sliding patio door. Surrounding the cabin were huge old poplar trees – many with bare broken branches where the Canada Geese landed in the spring. A few brightly coloured LEGO bricks and simple minifigures have captured the essence of this special  place in a way that all the photos never could. Thanks so much J!

A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.
– Swami Sivananda –

Have you ever built a diorama and if so, what part of the great big world were you trying to capture?

How to Make Boot Puppies

Recycle old rubber boots by making them into these adorable puppies!

Rubber boot puppies or dogs

How cool would it be to have a few of these in your yard! Here are my thoughts on how to do this!

Instructions:

I haven’t been able to find any instructions on the internet for how to make these puppies, but this is what I surmise from the photo:
– you need 7 boots – 4 are used for the legs, one for the back and tail, one for the lower jaw and neck, and one for the upper jar/head and ears.
– you would use a pair of heavy cutting shears to split the legs of the boots as needed.
– maybe you would use a bolt to hold the upper jaw to the lower one.
– perhaps you would fill the legs with sand to keep them from falling over.

What a happy way to remember the not so happy activity of slogging through the mud in our flooded cabins!

Story of a Bunny Pattern

My mom was a knitter and a sewer. (In retrospect, Seamstress looks better than sewer. Sewer suddenly looks like a place of waste management). One of her earliest projects (after I was born) was a stuffed bunny that I called ‘Baboo’.

sewing
I don’t get it – how could I have ‘Come from a pattern’?

The pattern in this photo is the one she used over mpffmp years ago. The bunny in this photo is Baboo 2. Baboo 1 was a much more interesting creature.  The first time Baboo 1 was washed, one of his ears shrank much more than the other one did. For the rest of his life, his short ear stood up at attention, and his long ear flopped down over his eye.

When Baboo 1 was about 20 years old, I carefully unstuffed him and gave him a good bath in preparation for his introduction to my first child. Once he was dry, I popped him and his stuffing into a paper bag and set him on a shelf in my mom’s laundry room. When I went to retrieve Baboo 1, he was gone. Someone must have seen the old bag of grungy stuffing and threw it out, not realizing that Baboo 1 was in there too.

I made a new Baboo, but he was never right. I used felt for his eyes, but I should have embroidered them. His ears were both the same length, and even when I stitched one down so it would flop, it just wasn’t the same.

I’m glad I still have the pattern. I think I am old enough now to make Baboo again, only this time I will do all the right things wrong, and all the wrong things right. Baboo 3 will be as imperfectly perfect as Baboo 1!

For more photos from this WordPress Challenge, go to Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern