Tag Archives: handy

Doors, Wheels, and Headboards

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What do you do when you have a box spring and mattress and no bed set? Why, you make one of course. Bed sets are expensive and then you have to worry about getting matching furniture, a dresser, end tables, dressing table, etc. Who wants to shop through huge department stores offering no interest for five years and the best deals in town? Not me!

Instead of barn wood, this time I am going to use an old five panel door. It was a free door we got from a friend. They got it off of Craigslist. If you are looking for one, I would suggest Craigslist, garage sales, swap meets, or construction areas. People tear down old houses and the stuff is just going to the dump, They are often glad for someone to take it off their hands.

One side of the door I had was covered in a seventies era wavy panel, which much to my glee, came off easily and uncovered that side of the door was unpainted. Therefore, it was easy to sand the edges and prep for finish. After two coats of polyurethane, it was ready to go. I used 2x4s to create legs that could easily be adjusted for height and screwed to any standard bed frame.

Now for the fun stuff. I purchased an old iron wheel on Craigslist which I used for the play Oklahoma. It is a great piece, but what in the world was I going to do with it afterwords? Using the door knob hole, I inserted the axle of the wheel and wired the socket from an an old lamp through the hole. I attached the wheel securely with a bolt and plugged that baby in. We have a headboard with a lamp all ready to go. Check out the video below!

 

Cords Cords, and More Cords

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Flat screen televisions are great. You can hang them on the wall, above the mantle, or use the stand to put them on a cabinet. They don’t take up too much room, but their picture quality is excellent. Plasma, LCD, or LED, each has their pros and cons. It used to be if you wanted a big screen tv you needed a large room because the bigger the screen, the bigger the tv. Rear projection tvs were big, but the picture quality was bad and it seemed like you constantly had to adjust them to get the best color mix and sharpness. Tube tvs are rarely seen anymore. Flat panel tvs are light, easy to move, and easy to adjust.

But they still require lots of cords. One day someone will come up with a working high quality way to transmit HD video wirelessly, but until then, we are stuck wiring up all components. If the owners of the house were forward thinking or you own the house, you can hide the wires inside the wall. Many new houses come with an outlet and cable jack high up on the wall where most people would put the tv. You can buy boxes to easily install and run cords through the walls behind the drywall.

But what do you do when you are renting or decide to hang a tv in an unusual place? You can’t or don’t want to run the cords through the wall. What can you do? You can use cable runners, which stick on the wall. They usually come in white and are paintable to match the wall color. If you can run them on top of some molding or chair rail, you may be able to camouflage the runner from a casual glance. But at the end of the day, it is still visible. Also, what are you going to do at the end of the run? The cords have to come out somewhere. Do you have a media cabinet or shelf to put them on? Is that hidden from view? If you have a good system, you may have everything running through a receiver and only one HDMI cable going to your tv. You still want to hide that cord. My receiver is old, so it doesn’t have a way to run HDMI.

What components do you have running to your tv: Apple TV, Xbox, Playstation, Fire TV, DVD player, Bluray player, cable box? I have some components onside an old antique radio under the tv and some on shelves hidden by a privacy screen. So I had a lot of cords running all over the place.

To solve the problem of the cord nest in a stylish and designer approved way, I turned to my stash of barn wood I still had from taking down the barn. I made a frame out of 1×2 boards to start. I took the barn wood, cleaned the boards with a power washer, and ripped them to the same width. I then nailed them to the frame at an angle. I took my circular saw and cut them to the frame, then cleaned the line with a flush cut bit on my router. I nailed some perpendicular pieces across the boards on the back to strengthen it up and cut out some channels in the frame where the cords drop from the tv and out the sides.

Using a level and a stud finder, I prepped the piece to hang on the wall. It took three people to hang, two to hold and one to run the cords. I pushed it up against the tv and screwed it to the wall. It created four screw holes in the wall, but that’s no different than hanging pictures on the wall and can be easily patched. Now I have I great decorative piece on the wall that also hides all of my cords. Mission accomplished. Check out the video below and try it out for your house.

 

 

Santa’s Workshop

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When you enjoy DIY or have some skills, there is no better gift than a homemade gift right? It's more personal, carries more meaning. But at what cost? It has been awhile since my last post, and that is because I have been busy in Santa's workshop. In my case, that's my garage, or to be more accurate, half my garage. The other half is storage. I've never had a car in my garage, at any house. One day when I have a separate workshop and a basement for storage, I might park cars in the garage. But until that day, the cars are relegated to the driveway. At our house, the garage is the main point of entry. It leads into the mud room/hallway where shoes, bags and jackets can be deposited. But when Santa's Workshop is open for business, the garage is closed. All traffic must go through the front door. That also means that I have to get anything that is needed from the garage. This year's present was much too large to just cover with a tarp. It required complete exclusion from garage access.

You know from my previous post that I have a whole stack of barnwood harvested from a local barn. Well, that wood won't do me any good just sitting there will it? Combine a stack of barn wood with Christmas and I have my work cut out for me. When we were first married, I made a kitchen table with a folding butterfly leaf. Our family grew quickly so we never really had the leaf closed up. The table just fit the six of us with no room to spare. It was time to grow and get a table more fitting for our family size. Also, I was never really happy with the previous table top. The table was maple and cherry and I really liked how the legs turned out, but for the top I tried to save money by layering maple on top of plywood. It just never worked out right. I refinished it a few years ago which helped some, but it still bugged me every time I sat down to eat.

Barn wood is great because it is aged and dried. You know there will be no more warping. But that also means the pieces are already warped and misshapened. If I had a planer and jointer, that wouldn't be a problem, but alas I do not. The edges were already rabbeted so using pipe clamps I glued the table top together. No matter how many clamps I used, I couldn't quite get every board to lay flush, but with some cross pieces screwed in from underneath, I could pull all of the boards securely together.

The apron required ripping the boards to width so I used the table saw as sort of a poor man's jointer. The legs are made from a 2×6 board from the barn secured to the apron with corner braces and bolts. It all went together square, but did not keep the table from rocking back and forth. I needed some angled braces for that. One end of the braces is bolted to the legs with a hex bolt going all the way through the leg. For the apron end, I chiseled out an insert for the brace so the actual apron would keep it from sliding or moving. It was then attached by a straight metal brace. It looks great and works really well.

I also decided to build a bench for one side of the table. We always seem to be pulling the piano bench in when we are feeding the neighbor kids or friends so why not just build one up front? You can cram more kids onto a bench than you can individual chairs. I used the same method for the top of the bench and then cut two pieces of a beam for the legs. A 2×6 support goes length wise down the center of the bench and rests on the legs in a cut out notch. I had to use my reciprocating saw to cut the beam for the legs, but just cut the notch on the table saw and cleaned it up with a chisel. The beam is secured to the support brace by a long hex bolt going all the way through.

 

With the table and bench built and ready for finishing I proceeded to blanket the entire garage in fine sanding dust. Every box, shoes, tools, bikes, everything had a fine coat of dust. I didn't sand everything perfectly smooth except for the top. I still want it to look a bit rough like barn wood should. I used a satin polyurethane finish sprayed onto the underside of the table top, the apron, legs, and the bench. Three coats were enough to provide a good solid finish. Then came the adventure of the tabletop.

I wanted a thick finish that filled in all holes and cracks and could also smooth out any uneven spots of the tabletop. You don't want to be sliding a glass of milk across your table just to have it crash when hitting a seam in the wood. And you don't want liquid spills drying in the cracks between boards. Using an epoxy resin, which is very expensive, I coated the table top. I had to take over one of the kid's rooms because it is too cold out in the garage for the epoxy to cure completely. I set up a tarp and a folding table in the room. Come to find out there were lots of seams in the table top not necessarily visible to the naked eye. I ended up having to buy another box of epoxy for the second coat because so much was running through the cracks and off the edges. Once the first coat dried and sealed things up, I applied the second smoothing coat and let that dry.

The following morning when I attempted to lift the new table top off the folding table, I found it was stuck, completely epoxied to the table! I tried prying it off with a pry bar, tried to saw through it, and tried a chisel. Nothing worked. The two tables had become one. I ended up having to use my Dremel to cut out holes in the folding table and then cutting down the edges to match the perpendicular supports. The epoxy and top layer of the folding table are there to stay, adding some great strength to my tabletop. The folding table on the other hand has two giant gaping holes in it and will have to be resurfaced with plywood or something. You should have seen my wife's face when she saw the folding table!

I woke up early Christmas morning as I always do and hefted the tabletop downstairs to assemble everything in the dining area. When everyone came downstairs, it took a moment for her to notice a new table just sitting there, but when she did it was a huge hit! The barn wood looks great and the table fits our family much better. However, Santa's Workshop will be closed for the foreseeable future. It's time to spend my evenings inside rather than out in the garage.

Keep checking my YouTube channel for the how to video. I am still working on editing and putting it together.

Update. Here is the video! It's a little long, but it was a big project. Enjoy!

 

 

A Place To Rest on Halloween

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It's Halloween, which closely rivals Christmas as our favorite holiday of the year. In terms of storage boxes, Christmas is still the far and away winner with Halloween as the solid second. But we don't go crazy overboard with lawn decorations like many people do and we don't do the whole chase the kids down the street with a chainsaw bit on Halloween night. The same goes for Christmas, when we have simple white lights on the house and a wreath on the door. Our decorating goes on inside where we can enjoy it for the whole month.

One of our big traditions, which is not unheard of, but certainly not common, is the Halloween tree. Many years ago a fake Christmas tree was brought into our home, much to my horror. I will never forgo a real tree, so now we celebrate with two trees. The real tree is placed in the front room where it's sparkling lights can be seen from the street, and the fake tree hides itself in shame in the family room. For Halloween, we string it with orange lights and we have spider, skeleton, and pumpkin ornaments. A witch's hat topper completes the look. During November we keep the lights and replace the ornaments with things we are thankful for and harvest related ornaments.

And every year we host a Halloween party. We invite all of the kids in the neighborhood and the kids from church along with their families. It's a simple affair with some games for the kids and great chile for the adults. The adults can sit around, talk, and get to know each other better while the kids race through the house. The attendees always help by bringing chile, sides, and sweets. Last year we decorated with a giant spider crawling up the cathedral ceiling. This year we had witch's brooms flying around the room like the picture at the top. But then I took things a step further and decided to build a casket. That's right, I took it upon myself to build a full human size coffin for the front room.

I used 3/8 inch plywood and 2x4s and started by measuring my own dimensions, then adding at least five inches to every measuement. I measured and marked the shape and started to cut. My daughter joined in and helped while I put together the base and the frame and then cut and attached the sides and the top plate. I found the shape and natural warping of the wood made things a little complicated, but it went together after a bit of wrangling. I grabbed some piano hinges and a safety hinge off of Amazon and attached the lid. To prep the plywood so it didn't show all of the knots, cracks, and screw holes. I used drywall spackling because it is much cheaper than wood filler and it was being painted over anyway. It took a lot of spackle, but after letting it dry and sanding, it turned out very smooth. With a good coat of paint, the exterior was ready to go. During a trip to the local thrift store, I found some thick red curtains that were perfect when attached to the inside of the box with staples.

Now what to do with the inside? I could lie in wait and pop out to scare party goers, but that wouldn't allow me to be much help in hosting the party. So I went into our costume boxes and found the bloodied tux from last year's corpse bride and groom costume. I stuffed the tux and added some shoes (which made the whole thing much creepier for some reason). I found a skull on clearance at the drug store to complete the body.

 

After cutting a hole in the shirt, I inserted my daughter's iPod and attached it to an external charger tucked inside the body. After activating the Digital Dudz app which shows a beating heart or maggots, it was ready to go. The coffin was a big hit at the party, but now I need to sell it on Craigslist to recoup some of the money. And where in the world would I store a full size coffin during the rest of the year?

So if you want to buy a coffin let me know, or build one yourself from the video. And tell me what you think in the comments below!

 

Hey, Do We Have Any Basil? Why Yes, We Do!

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A mediocre meal becomes a masterpiece with the right balance of herbs and spices. Every herb has certain properties and flavor that when used properly, really makes the dish. Of course, on the flip side, you can't just throw in herbs willy nilly and hope they work. You can ruin a meal that way. I know lemon isn't a spice, but it used for flavoring, so I'm going to use it to make my point. Our kids were cooking spaghetti and were trying to follow our example of adding some flavoring to the canned sauce. Instead of peppers (which they don't like), onions and some select herbs, they decided to add lemon juice. They've seen me add lemon to flavor other dishes and figured, what the heck!? Commence vomiting! It was nasty!!

You can buy whatever herbs you want in expensive little bottles. The herbs are decent, but not great. It seems the bottled herbs lose a lot of flavor in the processing and packaging. If you really want to wow the dining table, you've gotta use fresh herbs. There is no comparison. You don't have enough room in your yard for a garden you say? You don't know how to manage soil ph levels, compost, bugs, watering, and fertilizer. Lame. That's right, lame. Stop being a whiner and build yourself this hanging herb planter.

I used some more of my grandpas's barn wood and some of the other materials I talked about in my barn wood mason jar wall sconce post to include the large hose clamps and mason jars. With your board hanging vertical decide how far apart you want the mason jars to hang. Nail the hose clamps on and start to prep your mason jars. Use potting soil you can get ready mixed in a bag and pick the herbs you use most. I decided to grow basil, cilantro, and chives. Plant the seeds in your jars and then secure the jars in the clamps. Figure out a way to hang your little herb garden. I used an eye bolt as you can see in the video below. Turn your jars at an angle toward the sun and all you have to do is water when it gets dry.

One note about using mason jars has to do with the watering. There is no drainage, so if you overwater or don't have a good sunny spot, you may start to get some moss and/or mold growth in the jar. You have to keep an eye on the dampness of the soil. But if your garden is hanging on your front porch anyway, you'll see it every time you walk into your house. That's so much easier than trying to remember to go into the backyard to water!

When your plants start to get too big for their britches, no problem. Go ahead and trim your plants and prep a spot in your kitchen to hang them upside down to dry. Home dried herbs can be saved and used during the cold winter months when nothing is growing, making your garden a year round affair. And home dried herbs retain much more flavor than those store bought bottled ones. As an added bonus, hanging drying herbs looks cool in your kitchen.

So check out the how to video below and make your own mason jar herb garden. Don't worry if you don't have barn wood. You can find a cool piece of driftwood at the beach or just use a nice looking board. No excuses!

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

Lazy Summer Days on the Porch

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The front porch, a place to sit with a glass of lemonade, talk to the neighbors, and watch the kids zoom up and down the street on their bikes. It's a perfect place to watch a summer lightning storm or read a good book. If you are lucky, you have a large wrap around porch complete with a porch swing. If you have spent a little time creating the perfect porch, maybe you have a cooler and some speakers to blast summer hits from the Beach Boys.

Shift scenes to a city park. You have all seen the iconic pictures of old men playing checkers or chess in the park right? Ringers sit and wait for unsuspecting challengers. Old men while away the hours until their wives call them home to supper, talking about the good ole days and swapping stories and jokes. People walking their dogs stop to watch the action and say hello to the regulars. Runners wave as they pass and skateboarders zoom by with headphones blasting deep bass beats.

How about combining the scene at the park with the relaxing atmosphere of the front porch? Create an outdoor checkerboard the perfect size for your front porch and discover the secrets of lazy days shouting “King me!” and scoring multiple jumps. For this checkerboard, all you need are pieces of scrap wood, preferably a 4×4, some paint, and some patience. Don't worry about your board being perfectly level or smooth. You are going for the outdoor homemade look. You want something that would sell for big bucks at a folk art store and would be the upscale envy of any Cracker Barrel customer. A steady hand and some paint complete the board.

So what, pray tell, would you use for pieces? You could always steal pieces from your game closet, but what fun is that? Instead, collect some bottle caps of your favorite beverages. We went with the epic battle of cola vs root beer. You could do Coke vs Pepsi or even use caps from something a little stronger. The best thing about it? Someone just has to drink the sodas so you can use the caps. Tough life eh?

Check out my how to video below and then fire up the saw. Summer's half gone!!

 

 

 

Learn By Doing. No More Excuses!

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You just aren’t handy.  You are not good with tools.  You don’t know a hammer from screwdriver.   You would rather just pay someone to fix it.  You are too busy with life. Yawn yawn spit cuss.  One excuse is as good as another.  Are you truly all thumbs with no coordination?  Well, guess what, you can get over it.  Do you think certain people were just born with handyman skills?  They started walking one day and ripped a board on a table saw the next?  Learning to use tools is no different than learning to ride a bike or play an instrument.  It takes patience and practice!

Before you totally dismiss the premise of my post, let me concede that everyone has certain talents and strengths unique to them.  The world would be boring if we were all good at the same things.  People have different likes and desires as well.  I get that.  I’m talking to those of you who want to be handy and build things but are convinced you don’t have it in you.  Developing a talent is all about work and desire.  Do you really want it or has that become your excuse when you are in the presence of someone who acts instead of talks about acting?

Realize that the first thing you build or design is gonna suck,  Own it and get over it.  You will have this grandiose vision in your mind of what the final outcome will be and your finished product won’t even be recognizable.  You’ll be lucky if it is even useful.  But guess what?  You learned something and will do better next time.  You will identify your strengths and weaknesses.  Design to your strengths and incorporate your weaknesses.  So many cliches come to mind, but practice truly does make perfect.

I remember as a kid, we moved to a different state and somehow my baseball glove was lost.  We didn’t have the money to just go out and buy another glove, so while I saved and wrote letters to Santa, I decided I could make my own out of plastic bags and stuffing.  I planned it out in my mind for hours while laying in bed trying to fall asleep.  In theory it should work just fine as an interim replacement glove.  They really aren’t that complicated.  So I cut out the shape of a glove and taped everything together just so.  What a disaster!  It wouldn’t even stay on my hand let alone catch a fly ball.  I didn’t take into account the properties of leather and stitching.  Stupid kid you may say.  NO!!  Brilliant.  I had a need and tried to come up with a way to fix it.  I learned more by failing than I would have by not even trying.  I also built up a habit of learning by doing.

If there is a project you would like to build but haven’t had the cojones to take the plunge, do it!!  If it turns into an epic fail,so what!!  You’ll have a great time in the process and will build confidence for future projects.  Dive in and make mistakes.  Be willing to fail.  I’ve never met someone who regretted failing, but have met many who regret they never tried.

 

Disclaimer:  Read operating manuals to learn tool operation and safety guidelines before diving in.  You wouldn’t dive into a pool without knowing how deep it is would you??

The Magic Floating Book Shelf

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I love books. I love reading. I love bookstores and libraries and covet homes with big floor to ceiling book shelves with a rolling ladder. One of the first things I do when I move to a new place is to sign up for a library card. I especially love old books. I love the smell of books and the feel of books. But books are heavy and books take up a lot of space. Books are hard to move around from place to place, especially if they are not being read regularly.

Then came e-readers. E-readers like the Kindle and Nook are awesome. You can fit thousands of books on a single device and the battery lasts forever. You can use a tablet, but the e-ink on an e-reader is easy on the eyes and can be read in bright sunlight just like a real book. I used to have the problem when I traveled for work of loading down my suitcase with books. If I was going to be away for a week I would have to pack four or five books in my suitcase. I couldn't afford to just buy new books, especially when there is a library full of free books at home. Now I can pack one device, smaller than the average paperback, and carry more books than I'll ever read on one trip. You lose the feel, smell, and experience of holding and reading a real book, but I can live with the trade off in convenience and size. I can check out e-books from the library even easier than going and checking out real books.

I'm also a big fan of the audiobook. Download a book from the library on your phone or MP3 player via the Overdrive app and you can make your commute enjoyable and educational. I'll get to the end of a long road trip and want to keep going because the book isn't done yet!

So how do I incorporate books into my home design and decorations? There are a certain number of antique books that I will never get rid of. Some were passed down from my parents or grandparents. Others are just cool books I have found at garage sales or thrift stores. They need to be displayed for others to see and enjoy. I can't keep good books hidden away on a shelf or in a closet. I also had some books that I knew I would never read again in paper format. If I do decide to revisit them, I'll load them onto my e-reader. Instead of throwing them away or recycling them, I decided to use them to build shelves. This design uses a hard back book and an “L” bracket to create a floating shelf. When other books are stacked on top, it creates the illusion that the books are floating on the wall. It is a great effect and has been a huge talking point for friends and neighbors visiting the house. It is a simple project requiring only the purchase of the bracket, a book, some glue, and some screws and can be made for well under $5.

 

Renting and DIY

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Due to the nature of my employment, we don't stay around in one place too long. And with the current nature of the economy and our other investments, it does not make sense for us to buy a new house every time we move. Not to mention it would be a huge headache to buy, finance, and sell every three or four years. We could keep the house and rent it out, but that brings up a whole slew of other problems. Having a successful lucrative rental also requires certain market conditions to even make it worth it. We have another huge issue keeping us from buying: we don't know where in the world we will finally settle down. So the common practice among my peers of buying your retirement home early and renting it out won't work. We have some ideas and we know where we don't want, but we haven't decided where we do want. What do they say about proving a negative?

I'm a DIY guy. When something breaks, I don't call someone. I fix it myself unless it is beyond my skill set. I always have plans on what I want to do in a house and it really sucks to be in a rental where I can't do anything without permission first. It is the major drawback to renting. In a previous house, the dishwasher was in horrible condition. We got the impression from the property manager that the owner was not interested in spending money replacing something that still worked (even if barely). We were not going to live in a house with an unworkable dishwasher for multiple years, so I went out and bought a new one and installed it. When the property manager came in and saw it, she freaked out! “He didn't agree to pay for that!” she cried.

I calmly tried to explain that I didn't care if he paid us back. I didn't buy it expecting to be paid back. If he chose to, awesome, but I was going to do it anyway. It was quite amusing. She couldn't wrap her head around the fact that someone would put money into a house he didn't own and expect nothing in return. From my perspective, even though I'm only there for a few years, it is still my home where my kids were going to grow up and where I would escape to after work. What man wants an inoperable dishwasher in his castle?? Not this one. In the end, the landlord ended up paying us back for the unit and our property manager trusted us implicitly from there on out.

I firmly believe that when you rent a place, you should leave it in better shape than you found it. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it ensures that you get good referrals when you move on and can always stay in higher end places. It also motivates the landlord to not raise your rent, because he doesn't want to lose such great tenants. It is worth a couple of hundred a month for the piece of mind that things will be taken care of and will be kept in good condition. If the biggest fear for landlords are horrible tenants, then the best way to allay those fears and make fast friends is to be an awesome tenant.

So how do I get my DIY fix in a home I don't own? My first rule is to not do anything that wouldn't have wide appeal. Only do things that are easily reversible. If the landlord doesn't like it, you can take it down or switch it back no problem. There is a project I will detail later on for a bay window bench. It is made to fit in that room, but can be removed easily if required. I also tend to make pieces that accent a room, but aren't a permanent part of the room. Use furniture, colors, and design to decorate a room when you can't use paint or wallpaper. If done properly, no one will even notice the room is painted the generic egg shell every landlord seems to use. Pillows, window treatments, shelves, and rugs can all be used to great advantage. And if you do get permission to paint, don't use wild colors that you will have to paint over before you leave. Use earth tones and other mild colors. You may get away with leaving it when you go.

Renting doesn't mean you can't have a “home”, only that you have to invest a little more thought into how you decorate the house to make it a home. Earn your landlord's trust and make wise design decisions and any rental can feel just as personalized as a house you own.

And a note to landlords everywhere: no more carpet!!! And if you insist on carpet, be prepared to re-carpet every 5-7 years. The worst is a landlord too cheap to install good carpet or replace bad carpet damaged by previous tenants or just from normal wear and tear. Part of owning a rental is putting money into it for upkeep. If you want good tenants, show you care about your property, because most tenants will only treat it as well as you do. And if we come knocking, fight for us; you will be glad you did!!

Mason Jar Lamp Shade

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I have talked about my paternal grandparents, but haven't included anything about the maternal side. That shall change starting now. My maternal grandpa was a Naval Aviator towards the end of WWII and a flight instructor during Korea. My mom was born at the Pensacola Naval Hospital while he was stationed there. He was the epitome of a Western man. He loved everything Navy, aviation, or cowboy, and he could back it up. He had a ranch, owned a service station, and fished everyday of his retired life. Unfortunately, all of his memorabilia was kept in the basement of his mountain home in Utah. One particularly wet season, the river rose to historic heights and flooded the entire basement, ruining all of his military and historic stuff. I'm talking his original WWII era bomber jacket. Gone! Ai Ai Ai!!! I was too young at the time to really appreciate the loss, although I knew at some level it was bad.

He told lots of stories when I was a kid and one involved the bomber jacket. He claimed the Navy, after the war, had everyone turn in their issued gear. OK, that makes sense. It belongs to the government after all and should be returned when you no longer work for the government. But here's the kicker: he said the Navy had no use for all of those jackets. It was peacetime after all and they were used. The Navy's numbers went down tremendously. So what did they do with all of those surplus jackets? Tossed them overboard. That's what he said. They were just thrown to the sharks, forever lost to the deep. That makes the flood so much more tragic. He didn't turn it in when he was supposed to, but it was still ruined by water in the end.

My point in telling this story is that there wasn't much left of the stuff he saved from the good old days. After he died, my mom went through some of his stuff with grandma and found a small stamp collection. They were all of the same stamp in either red or green and were all used. It wasn't a serious collection of unused originals preserved behind acid free plastic, but a stack of stamps he thought were cool and decided to keep. They were aviation stamps, which showed his love for flying. As a side note, he rarely flew anywhere after he stopped flying. If he wasn't the pilot, he wasn't interested in sitting as a passenger. I just find that interesting. My mom sent the stamps to me and for a long time they sat in a baggy in a drawer. I thought about it and decided there was no point keeping them in a drawer. I needed to use them and put them somewhere I could appreciate them.

Then came the need and the solution. The mason jar wall sconce I described in a previous post, was extremely bright. The light was amplified going through the mason jar and was way too bright for the space. Why not use the stamps to refract and diffuse the light? Indeed, why not? So that it was what I did.

The wall sconce now serves as a reminder of grandparents on both sides of the family and still cost nothing! I had all of the materials at home. Here's the video explaining the process.