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Why We Love DIY

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6682450721_cc676aea66_zsource: Natalia Wilson

A friend of mine gave me a window cling set the last week. It came with four outline-printed window clings and a set of puffy paints.

At first, the set reminded me of coloring I did as a child, and I thought it juvenile. But later that evening, before going to bed, I tried it out.

Two minutes in, and I was completed addicted.

For the next three days I spent all my free time working on the project. The result, when completed, went proudly onto the front of my fridge.

As much as I enjoyed the project, it got me thinking: Why would an adult enjoy such a mundane activity? In fact, why do adults enjoy DIY at all?

This is what I realized –

  • DIY offers us an opportunity to be creative. Even the window clings, with their pre-chosen paints, was an opportunity for creativity. I chose the color combination to use on each cling. I decided where the colors would be placed.
  • DIY offers us an opportunity for problem solving. I had only the palette my friend had chosen. I didn’t love the colors but I wasn’t about to purchase more. I had to deal with the problem of making something beautiful from very limited resources (Solution: I blended the puffy paints).
  • DIY offers us a way to relax. Once the colors were chosen, there was something very mindless about applying them to the clings. I felt myself drifting into a kind of alternate state.
  • DIY offers us a feeling of accomplishment. I felt good that I was able to keep the paint within the intricate line drawing. I enjoyed feeling that I had very steady hands. It’s a small ability, but it still makes me feel special.
  • DIY allows us the opportunity for social approval. I placed the clings in a public spot. I have already received compliments on them several times and I expect to get quite a few more. Even as an adult, compliments feel nice.

Why We Love DIYsource: Kat Stan

Why is any of this important?

It’s useful for DIYers to realize that there are ways of increasing the enjoyment they get from their hobbies. Hobbies, by their nature are fun, but there are things we can choose to do that can make them even more fun.

Here a couple of basic principles:

1 – Make sure the project has at least one creative element. Even if you are following written instructions, or a pattern, there is always something you can do to put your own distinctive “signature” on the project.

I once made a lime green tunic shirt from a purchased pattern (back when that color was still popular).  I didn’t know enough about sewing to alter the pattern, but I did choose to go against the pattern suggestions, and use a contrasting trim. I chose black fabric for the pockets and collar and black buttons for the closures.

2 – Add a problem solving element to the project, if it doesn’t come naturally. To do this, make artificial restrictions on either materials, time frame, size, etc.

My favorite class in college was 3D Design. Instead of just giving us projects to complete, the teacher would assign parameters that required real thought to work around. For instance, a sculpture couldn’t be touched with human hands; only with plastic bags. Or, an art kite had to actually be able to fly.

Other crafts, especially on the internet, focus on using found objects or recycled materials only.

3 – Pick a project that varies levels of difficulty throughout. This way you alternate periods of hard work, moderate, and easy work, during the same session.

That’s what I like about ceramics. You start by pounding the clay. Then you build a rough basic form. Only at the end, does the clay require real detail and thought as you put on the finishing touches.

4 – Use your skills. You’ll feel better about your work if it uses some level of skill.  Notice I said skill, not talent. Usable skills can consist of the ability to follow intricate directions, to measure and cut wood accurately,  or in my case with the window clings, simply to stay within the lines.

5 – Allow others to view your finished project. I once made a needlepoint for my son and his new wife. The kit itself was probably only a 20-30 dollars, but I spent over a $100 to frame it.

The reason? I didn’t want the needlepoint shoved into the closet and forgotten. Instead, I wanted it on a wall, where it could be admired.

Why We Love DIYsource: J. Feist

What tips did I miss? Please share your tip by adding a comment below!

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Favorite Reads 2016

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77533711_9b37edb6e3_zsource: anna carol

It’s been close to two years since I last did a Favorite Reads post.

My online time has changed dramatically during that time. I used to read a lot of specialty blogs, like Crafty Pod, Meggie Cat and How About Orange. Since my last update, many of these sites have stopped publishing.

Now, instead, I read mostly websites, with a few blogs sprinkled in.

Here are the websites at which I spend 80% of my (non-working) online time.

Crafts

  • Pinterest – Why? Constant flood of ideas for every kind of craft and recycling project.
  • Make Something 365 – Why? I purchased the 365 book and I love to read the website for inspiration.
  • Keri Smith – Why? I own almost everything Keri Smith has written. She is my guru.

Self-Help

Education

  • Class Central – Why? List of almost 2000 free classes each month. Most are given by well respected colleges and universities.
  • Ted – Why? Short, high quality talks on a variety of subjects.
  • Talks At Google – Why? Longish talks, often on best selling books.

Cooking

  • Allrecipes – Why? Most recipes have been tested and rated, and include comments and changes.
  • Chowhound – Why? Great group discussions on many food related topics. I especially enjoy cookbook posts.

Hive Mind

  • reddit – Why? When I have a question, I love to get multiple opinions on the subject. I also love to read answers to others folks questions.
  • MetaFilter – Why? See above.

Blogging

  • ProBlogger – Why? Perpetual favorite of mine. Lots of guest bloggers.
  • Moz – Why? Quality information, backed by research.
  • KeyWord Tool – Why? My favorite keyword tool. Free and very easy to use.
  • flickr – Why? Practically unlimited supply of free photos.
  • PicMonkey – Why? Online photo editor. I usually use the free version but there is a paid version with more options.

Decorating

  • Houzz – Why? I get their newsletter. Every time I open it there is always something new to peruse.

Books

  • LibriVox – Why? Who wouldn’t love hundreds of free audiobooks?
  • goodreads – Why? I enjoy the entire site but I especially love to browse Listopia.
  • Better World Books – Why? Good place to purchase used books for readers living outside the US. Free shipping.
  • Amazon – Why? Great resource for book reviews.
  • Book Depository  – Why? Thousands of new books for sale for readers outside the US. Free shipping.

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19 Home Business Ideas That Work (And 4 That Don’t)

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6355388579_0312787bde_zsource: 401kcalculator.org

This is the time of the year that everyone is looking for ways to make extra money. Between unpaid credit card bills from Black Friday and overly generous seasonal gift giving, a lot of us are scrambling for extra cash.

If you already have a full-time job or have small children at home, the best way to earn money may be to start your own mini business. You can set your own hours, choose your own pay and do the kind of work you enjoy.

I know quite a few people (including myself) who have made money working from home. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.

A neighbor used to make money each year by delivering the new Yellow Pages to our area. She had a big van and a good back but it was still a lot of hard work.

My mother sold rubber stamps and Spanish videos at the flea market (what a combination!). She ordered the products wholesale and rented a booth in a popular indoor flea market. She made about $1000.00 profit in good months. Warning: Don’t just jump into a flea market business without a lot of research. This business is a lot harder to pull off than it sounds.

A friend of mine has done daycare in her house for many years. She always has to be home and her house needs to be constantly spotless but she actually makes very good money.

Another neighbor made good money running a long distance van service. He advertised in the community newspaper for customers who needed to go from Baltimore to New York or Baltimore to New Jersey. My neighbor also did airport runs. He charged a flat rate, irregardless of the number of people traveling.

My mom ran a notary service from her house. She made only a few dollars per notary and had the aggravation of strangers coming to her home at all hours. She hardly made any money but she did for many years. Update: Several people are now offering mobile notary services (for a high price) and this may be a more profitable endeavor.

I use self-employed plumbers, electricians, handymen, movers and cleaning help. My father-in-law uses self-employed painters, carpenters and caterers. I assume each of these contractors makes a decent living.

My husband worked for a man who sold t-shirts, undershirts, underpants and socks at flea markets. The man would buy “imperfect” merchandise very cheap and sell them for a small mark-up. In order to earn a reasonable living, instead of just selling at one flea market, he hired enough teens so that he could sell at several.

I tutored Russian and Israeli immigrants in English. I found some students through my part-time ESL job and others through advertising in the community newspaper. I was able to do the work without knowing either Hebrew or Russian, as the lessons were all given in English. I will probably write a longer post about this later.

My niece runs a nursery school from her home. She has a degree in early childhood education and teaches the class in Hebrew. She has six to eight children each year and provides a complete preschool curriculum.

My daughter’s 20 year old friend made $10.00 dollars an hour babysitting. Babysitting doesn’t seem like a very grown up way to make money, but it is actually quite profitable.

I used to send my son to a man who specialized in teaching religious studies to homeschooled boys. The man charge several hundred dollars a month and taught the boys in groups of eight. The classes lasted three hours daily and took place in his dining room. He taught a group of younger boys in the morning and a group of older boys in the afternoon. If you have a important skill to pass on, teaching homeschool classes may be the way to go for you.

My husband and I had a business called Baltimore Computer Repair. My husband made house calls to sick computers at night, after his day job was through. He found his customers through advertising in our daily newspaper. My son, who is A+ certified, now does this same work in Israel.

The husband of a friend makes money at home doing telephone soliciting for charities. He works his own hours and is on commission.

My husband made close to $1000.00 a month on weekends by doing computer programming for businesses. He got the first job, writing an inventory program, for a distant friend who owns a pizza shop. The pizza shop owner recommended him to a man who owned three grocery stores, who recommended him to a print shop owner, etc.

When I was a teen, I made a small amount of money doing grocery shopping for senior citizens. I advertised in the community paper and got plenty of calls. I charged a $5.00 minimum or $.15 per item. Nowadays, I would have to charge a lot more to make this worthwhile, probably $.30 per item.

I see plenty of boys (and men) making money shoveling snow, mowing lawn or raking leaves. As a matter of fact, I’ve paid for these services plenty of times myself.

My mother sold Avon for many years. Unlike lots of other direct sales programs, you do actually make money from Avon. Mary Kay and Tupperware also make a profit for their salespeople. I have friends who sold both, quite successfully.

I had a very successful business selling hats and modest skirts from my basement. I sold to a specialty crown (religious women and cancer patients). I sewed the hats myself and outsourced the simple skirts to neighbors. Besides selling from home, I had several retail distributors.

In the past, I have made money from this blog. Right now this blog is making less than $100 a month, but several years ago it was doing slightly better. The money comes from Google Adsense and is deposited in my bank account each month.

Now for a couple of businesses that don’t work (at least for me)!

I used to have my own flea market business, selling kitchenware, novelties and kid’s toys. I ordered products wholesale through the Thomas Register and through flea market merchandise catalogues. I also bought merchandise locally at wholesale stores. I lost a ton of money on this project and to this day I don’t know why.

I had a business where I tried to outsource computer techs to busy companies who needed help with their overflow. Another big failure. The cause of this flop was easy to understand after just a few weeks. The smaller companies didn’t have any overflow work to offer us and large companies wanted an established business to work with.

I made handmade gifts and jewelry to sell at flea markets. After a month of Sundays I finally sold one pair of earring. The cause of this disaster was simply a lack of thinking on my part. I didn’t realize that people go to flea markets to get great deals…not art jewelry at medium to high prices. I really had no excuse for this stupidity because I already had flea market experience.

I once tried selling greeting card ideas to the companies listed in the back of Writer’s Digest. Yes, people said it took years to break into the greeting card market, but I didn’t believe it. I sent out hundred of greeting card ideas and not one of them sold. I guess sometimes you need to listen to advise.

If you have a successful business, please let me know about it in a comment.

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Tangible Things Class: How To See The World Differently

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This Is Not A Chairsource: Maureen Didde

I am currently participating in a free, online class called Tangible Things. It is given by Harvard University and it is about truly seeing and understanding the objects around you.

We did a exercise today that I would like to share with you. The exercise consists of stretching your mind by looking at an object in your home in as many ways as possible.

For instance, a telephone is a form of communication, but it’s also an artifact of modern design, a scientific invention, a retail commodity, a method of relaxation, etc.

To do the exercise yourself, follow these instructions:

1. Watch the video called This Is Not a Chair located on Youtube.

2. Complete the template This is not a _________; it is a __________.

3. Photograph the object, if desired.

Here is my finished exercise

This in not a plate. It is a decorative object. It was purchased for the pleasure it brings to the eye.

This is not a plate. It is a method of eating. It allows the user a simple way of enjoying food away from the immediate area of the stove.

This is not a plate. It is a part of a cooking technique. Food is placed on the plate and then heated in a microwave oven.

This is not a plate. It is small bit of American culture. Corelle became popular about 35 years ago and is still sold today.

This is not a plate. It is an example of modern science. This plate is made from Vitrelle, a substance first invented in a lab.

If you decide to do the exercise, please send me your results. I would love to read them.

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