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Gretchen Demitroff won our giveaway at Cut Out + Keep. We wanted to highlight one of her crafts here on An Eclectic Blog. Please visit her blog, Angry Pincushion, for more info and detailed descriptions of the medium and large size “mushrooms.”

Mosaic Mushroom Garden

Mosaic Mushroom Garden

You Will Need:

-Two Terra Cotta Pots, One 1 1/2 inch pot (pretty tiny) and one 3 inch pot
-One 4 inch Terra Cotta saucer
-Flat glass marbles
-Polished pebbles or stones
-Two colors of Acrylic paint in shades of tan or creme
-Paint brush and sponge
-Tube of Amazing EcoGlue or Amazing GOOP Lawn & Garden
-Clear Acrylic Gloss (or Matte), Water Resistant Spray Coat

Step 1- To make the base, or the stem of the mushroom take the smaller of the two terra cotta pots (make sure it’s clean first!) and using EcoGlue or Amazing GOOP, glue it onto the larger pot (just like you were stacking them together ). Let dry for 24 hours.

Step 2- After the pots dry for 24hrs, paint the mushroom “stem” with acrylic paint. I used a tan base coat, let that dry then applied a lighter creme or tan color. Using a dry sponge I dragged the lighter shade down the sides for a layered effect, it makes it look more like a real mushroom stem. Let paint dry.

Step 3- After paint is fully dry, affix the terra cotta saucer, for the mushroom cap, to the base pots with a liberal amount of adhesive, let dry for 24hrs again.

Step 4- Now using EcoGlue or Amazing GOOP, begin applying the flat marbles and pebbles on to the top of the saucer or “mushroom cap”, and down the sides of the saucer, in whatever pattern or colors you wish. You can substitute more flat marbles for the pebbles if you wish. When you begin affixing the marbles and pebbles to the sides of the saucer, they might slide a little, so sometimes you have to hold each marble or pebble in place for a few seconds until it sticks by itself. Let dry for 24 hrs again.

Step 5- Using grout on the mushroom’s cap is optional, I chose not to, but if you like that look go for it! If you plan on putting your mushroom outside make sure to spray it using a water resistant clear gloss, or matte spray coat.

Congratulations! You are now the proud parent of a beautiful baby garden mushroom 🙂

071130-hurricanes-forecast_bigHurricane season is approaching and weather agencies anticipate several named hurricanes in 2009.

Many areas of the country are still rebuilding and repairing damaged buildings and properties from the recent ruthless hurricane seasons. Preparation, however, can make a tremendous difference in protecting your home.

Rooftops

Prepare your roof for hurricane-force winds, which can tear away roofing materials. Well-installed roofs also will prevent the damage from changing pressures caused by hurricanes.

Ray Rosewell, CEO of DaVinci Roofscapes says pressure that escapes into the home through the roof can cause walls and windows of a home to actually blow out. Hurricane winds also cause damage by lifting shingles from the roof and hurling various debris onto the roof. Experts recommend high wind roofing materials for hurricane inflicted areas.

Windows and doors

Broken windows and doors can also allow hurricane winds to rip through your home. Similar to roof leaks, the high winds that come through doors and windows cause a build-up of pressure, which can blow out the roof and walls of a home.

Impact resistant windows will help prevent these blow-outs. Many impact resistant windows are built with reinforced glass and are designed to withstand flying debris. Storm shutters and shades also offer protection against hurricane winds.

Companies such as Wayne-Dalton introduced Fabric Shield storm panels. Hurricane fabrics are durable and can be used several times without replacement.

Protecting valuables

Protect valuable items in the home with watertight products. Products such as Pelican Cases are polycarbonate cases designed to resist weights up to 5,000 pounds. Protect electronic documents by backing them up on external hard drives and other data storage devices and storing them outside the home.

General Repairs

If you’re in hurricane-prone areas, arm yourself with a tube of EcoGlue Extreme, to make on-the-spot fixes of damaged or broken fixtures around the exterior or interior of your home. Check for loose siding, tiles, window or door jambs, for example, and glue them in place.

For more information about hurricane preparation, please visit:

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1151083480_8e1fd82212_bWhat were your favorite backyard games as a kid? Mine usually involved making something up from scratch. Sometimes we would play hide and go seek for hours. Other times my siblings and I would put on a play for our (very patient) parents. But our favorite backyard activities involved building a fort, creating a new club and keeping the boys at bay.

The important part, of course, is to find a way to have fun together. We put together some ideas for celebrating National Backyard Games Week (May 18 – 25) and a tutorial for a simple picnic table project:

Water games! The weather is warming up, kids are counting down to the final days of class… what’s better than a water balloon fight? If you prefer more “structure” to your water games, you might try water balloon badminton (the directions call for a balloon filled with air, but water balloons are so much cooler).

Don’t Need a Single Supply to Play! Red Light, Green Light and Simon Says take nothing more than a group of silly kids and some imagination. Mix in a little Mother, May I and Red Rover, and you’ve got hours of (free) fun.

Creating New Family Traditions! With some inexpensive and easy-to-find supplies, you can rediscover old favorites like Lawn Darts or Croquet and even learn some new games like Bocce Ball. (Yes, I realize Bocce Ball is not even remotely a “new” game, but it’s new to me… and it looks like fun.)

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Don’t Need a Backyard! What if you live in an apartment? Don’t worry about it! Find your favorites from the list above, many can be easily taken in to public places, like your local park, and enjoyed together.

Finally, if you want a backyard space more situated for family fun, we found a few simple picnic table tutorials. And remember, when building things for your kids to enjoy, think about the materials used. Repurpose some old wood (either your own, or buy it at a building recycling center) and choose adhesives with low or no volatile organic compounds.

Picnic Table Plan (with video) from Handymanwire.com

Classic Picnic Table from Popular Mechanics

Refresh an Old Picnic Table from Learning to Step Lightly

Enjoy!

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451615304_2a360659bcFrom Eugene, Ore. to St. Petersburg, Fla., friends and neighbors are joining together in do-it-yourself and home improvement project clubs. Sort of like a modern Amish barn raising, small communities gather at the homes of the club members to take on projects big and small.

The Monthly Improvement Collective of Eugene meets 10 times per year, twice at the home of each of the five couples who belong to the group. The host family ensures that tools and supplies are available and provides breakfast and lunch and everyone pitches in on projects like building a retaining wall, installing a fence and replacing flooring.

When everyone chips in on labor, the obvious tangible benefit is a cost savings. The intangible could be just as important – neighbors and friends feel supported and part of a unique community that can come together to accomplish projects for each other.

Want to start a home improvement club of your own? Some things to think about:

  • How often should you meet? 10 times a year is less than once a month, but still a considerable time investment. Other clubs meet more frequently (monthly) or less (quarterly). Make sure everyone is on board regardless of the schedule you choose.
  • What projects will you tackle? Do members of your group have particular expertise that you can tap into? If no one has expertise, be careful not take on more than your group can handle. That’s a real morale breaker.
  • What’s the plan? For each project, it might be worth spending a Friday evening over dinner and wine to come up with a plan and a supplies list before the project begins.

Of course, most importantly, have fun!

A recent article on home improvement clubs can be found via the Hartford Courant.

Photo by tiswango via Flickr

Home Depot is sponsoring a video contest where you can show your best tips for saving energy. See the Home Depot YouTube channel for more details!

Our favorite energy saver is sealing and caulking leaky doors, windows and walls with EcoGlue Extreme.

Wimbledon 2008 is underway. We’re big tennis fans around here. In fact, Shoe GOO was originally created in small batches by a tennis player who needed a cheap way to keep his shoes in working order. Now I doubt Roger Federer needs Shoe GOO now, but for those who haven’t quite made it to the big time, give it a shot.

To keep up with the official Wimbledon action, you can visit the tournament’s site. The talk this year is about the Serbian playersAna Ivanovic, tennis’ current leading lady; Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic.

[from the Wimbledon Web site]

There has been no more heart-warming, and newsworthy, story in tennis this year than the rise of the sport in Serbia, a troubled nation that has found welcome relief in the heroics of three players: Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.

Djokovic became the first Serb to win a Grand Slam singles title when he captured the 2008 Australian Open. Ivanovic followed this success with victory at Roland Garros to become Serbia’s first female singles champion.

TV coverage is on the channels of ESPN.

Say goodbye to gray winter doldrums and bring the bright light of spring into your home with a luscious coat of paint. Nothing changes the feel of a room faster and sets off your belongings better than the right color chosen from the almost endless palette available.

Best of all, painting is the fastest and least expensive way to transform the rooms you live in. However, preparing the walls is the key to outstanding results—especially with a spackling product that gives you better results than you ever thought possible

Choose the color at your house, not in the store.

Bring home color chips from the paint store. Hold the colors you like up to each of the four walls of the room—the color will look slightly different on each wall because of light differences. The time of day also affects the hue. A yellow may look buttery at noon and almost creamy or tan in the evening. Finally, before buying several gallons of the color you like, invest in a quart of it and paint a swatch on each wall to see how it will look. Live with it for a few days. If you still love it, then buy enough to do the job.

Prep the Room First

  • Protect your belongings by moving all the furniture out of the room or to the middle and cover it with plastic. Protect the carpet with drop cloths.
  • Avoid the “paint around” that can lead to odd circles, streaks, or drips by removing switch plates, outlets, knobs and hinges and bag each with its screws– you will be glad you did when you’re ready to put them back.
  • Use painter’s tape to protect wood trim. Now you are ready to prepare the walls.

Prepare the walls

  • Remove all decorations from the walls. Using a general all-purpose cleaner, lightly wash off the dust and grime. Rinse with clean water and a sponge to make sure you’ve removed any soapy residue.
  • Fill all holes in the walls with spackling compound.

Secrets of spackling success

  • Use the right product. Nothing can make your efforts look more amateurish than wall “craters” from shrinking putty. Traditionally spackling has been done using a can of spackling paste and up to two putty knives. The frustrating experience of many non-professionals is that the putty has dried out since the last job and the putty knife is nowhere to be found. Also juggling a spackling can and applying the putty is awkward and messy.
  • Painter’s Nail Hole Filler comes in a tube with an angled sponge-tip applicator that evens out and finishes the surface, whether textured or smooth—no scraping or sanding required. No mixing–Painter’s Nail Hole Filler’s applicator tip guides the filler into cracks, holes and nail heads and rubs the patch to a clean smooth surface. With the tip, you can easily match the texture of the surface around the hole. The product won’t dry out in the tube and never shrinks or discolors paint or wallpaper—best of all it’s ready when you need it. Painters® Nail Hole Filler works on any wall texture or composition (wood, stucco, wallboard or plaster).
  • Clean up the hole before filling. Brush or wipe away any plaster flakes around the hole or debris in the hole so that you have a smooth surface.
  • Using Painter’s Nail Hole Filler. No mixing—just shake and knead the filler within the tube before opening it. Remove the cap and applicator. Snip the tip to open and attach the special angled sponge tip applicator. Squeeze a bead of filler to the top of the applicator and begin filling the hole or crack. Smooth and finish to desired texture. The fill is dry and ready to paint in 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Different strokes for different holes. When filling deeper and/or wider holes than the normal nail holes or small cracks, fill partially and allow the filler to set up and dry a little before adding more filler. Depending on how deep the hole, you may want to apply several layers of Painter’s Nail Hole Filler before the hole is entirely filled. Then smooth and texture the final layer and allow the fill to completely dry before painting.

Once the prep is done, it’s time to create your masterpiece. With the array of paint colors and application techniques available for today’s do-it-yourself decorator, you can create the perfect room with the perfect ambiance for you and your family.

Most home improvement and hardware stores carry a large variety of spackling products, including Painter’s Nail Hole Filler.

We have some crafty fans out there of E-6000, our popular craft adhesive.

A few of my favorites:

Cassette Wallet from Chezlin – how to make a wallet from the shell of a cassette tape. Very cool!

From Cyndi at Jewelry and Beading: A basic bead embroidered project. Beautiful jewelry “embroidered” with beads using E-6000.

Cork Business Card Holder from Not So Maudlin. Great way to reuse corks.

If you’re a crafter and would like to share a project here on the Eclectic Products blog, we’d love to see it!

Click here to watch the adventures of Mr. Amazing video (windows media file).

Or, view it via YouTube below.

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