Tag name:Good Reads

Why We Love DIY

February 28, 2017 / No Comments on 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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Styles Of Crafting

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Styles Of Craftingsource: Margarida Sardo

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my style of crafting. I’ve recounted every project I’ve done over the last couple of years, and I’ve come to a realization….I’m a utility crafter.

What is a utility crafter?

It’s a crafter who crafts useful projects only.  I don’t make decorative eyeglass cases,  pretty little toe rings or lovely lingerie bags. Those projects are charming, but their not for me.

What I do make are fitted sheets,  skirts,  replacement board game boxes,  greeting cards,  gifts of food,  and mini-notebooks.  All things that are cheaper to make myself or can’t be easily located.

The only exception is scrapbooking. Scrapbooks don’t save me money and they aren’t really useful.

I’d love to expand my crafting horizons and make a couple of things just for the creative fun of it.  Unfortunately,  I  never have time. Instead I’m busy crafting gift tags, making free, printable board games and sewing storage bags. Oh, well.

What is your crafting style? Please send me a comment and I’ll be happy to publish it.

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Favorite Reads

March 2, 2015 / 1 Comment on Favorite Reads
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Favorite Readssource: utnapistim

When I stumble upon a blog I really enjoy, one of the things I always do is check out what THEY read. I figure, if I enjoy their blog, we must share the same interests. And, being a blogger, they must really know who the “stars” of the blogging community are.

Here is my list of current favorites. They may not be the blogs I love in a month from now, but as of now, these are the blogs I read every day.  Hope you enjoy!

Crafts

  • Crafty Pod – Why? Wonderful podcasts on a wide variety of crafty topics.
  • How About Orange – Why? Super classy blog with lots of very doable projects and great resources.
  • MeggieCat – Why? Links to  tons of very unusual resources. (Has not been updating recently)
  • Cathy of California Why? I love all the photos she puts up of vintage crafts.

Homemaking

  • Small Notebook – Why? This blog always has new takes on old homemaking problems.
  • Home Living – Why? This is the blog of the famous Lady Lydia of Ladies Against Feminism

Israel

Frugality

  • The Simple Dollar Why? Because he doesn’t just recycle the usual trite money saving suggestions. He actually thinks things through before writing about them.

Board Games

  • Yehuda – Why? Lots of good information on games and gam­ing in Isr­ael.
  • Print And Play Podcast Blog Why? Reviews of print and play games. (Only up­dates a few times a month)

Cooking

  • 101 Cookbooks Why? Gourmet veg­et­ar­ian rec­ipes with gor­geous pic­tures.

Blogging

  • ProBlogger Why? Darren is the cream of on­line blog­ging res­our­ces.

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Incorporating Change Into Crafts

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1239797514_da842fa7c0_zsource: John Kannenberg

I’ve en­joyed three comp­lete­ly dif­fer­ent crafts over the last 10 years, two of which I rare­ly work on now. What has hap­pen­ed to all those years of know­ledge and exper­i­ence? Are they now worth­less?

The an­swer is a de­fin­ite NO. While it’s true I might never go back to en­joy­ing needle­point or scrap­booking, the rem­nants of my past interest show up on frequ­ent oc­ca­sions.

How?

There may be sev­eral subtle an­swers to that ques­tion, like in­flu­ence on style (scrapbooking) or wil­ling­ness to pro­gress slow­ly on a pro­ject (needle­point). But I like a less subtle answer. More of­ten than not, when I work on graph­ic de­signs, they are usual­ly print­able for scrap­books or pat­terns for needle­point pro­ject. Those old hob­bies  haven’t dis­ap­peared from my life, they just mani­fest them­selves dif­ferent­ly now.

An­other ex­ample. When I was young­er I used to eat only marga­rine or but­ter. Later, for health reasons I switched to olive oil. Now I use a mix of olive oil and yogurt as a fat on potatoes, pasta, rice and vegetables. It’s de­li­cious, but I would never have start­ed this new prac­tice, if I didn’t al­ready have a love of creamy (from the but­ter) and olive oil (from my low-fat days).

Here are my questions to you:

How have your interests changed over the years?  And, how have you cur­rent inter­ests been im­proved by the rem­nants of your past?

To merge your new inter­ests with your old, con­sider the fol­low­ing ques­tions…

…Can you use the skills learn­ed from a pre­vious hob­by in a new en­dea­vor? A lover of sew­ing and cross stitch­ing can com­bine pre­vious­ly mas­tered skills to create hand­sewn baby out­fits with cross stitched col­lars.

…Can you use the sub­ject mat­ter from an old in­ter­est as the mo­tif for a new? A sew­ing and golf­ing enthus­iast can use golf themed fab­ric to make sofa pil­lows and awning for a porch swing.

…Can you com­bine two or more inter­ests to make a third comp­lete­ly new inter­est? A hard­core fab­ric dyer and rub­ber stamper can  exper­iment with using fab­ric dyes to stamp on cot­ton.

I’d love to hear your answers to these ques­tions. Please write a comment to let me know what new and exciting projects you came up with!

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Favorite Blogs And Sites

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Favorite Blogs And Sites

source: Leo Leung

Since that time, my choices for reading have changed a lot.  In general, my  reading  has been pruned down,  but there are a couple of additions. So, here is my new, updated list.  Hope you enjoy!

Crafts

  • Crafty Pod – Why? Wonderful podcasts on a wide variety of crafty topics.
  • How About Orange – Why? Super classy blog with lots of very doable projects and great resources.
  • Little Grey Bungalow – Why? Lots of posts on retro living, vintage sewing patterns and forgotten crafting styles.

Homemaking

  • Unclutterer – Why? Lots of good advise and links on living a simple life in a small space. Not just a rehash of the same old advise.

Frugality

  • The Simple Dollar  Why? Because he doesn’t just recycle the usual trite money saving suggestions. He actually thinks things through before writing about them.

Board Games

  • Print And Play Podcast Blog  Why? Reviews of print and play games. (Only updates a few times a month)
  • Board Game Geek – Why? Anything and everything you could possibly want to know about buying, making and playing board games.

Cooking

  • Cheap Healthy Good – Why? I read this blog primarily for the constant stream of great links.
  • Jewish Food List Why? Simple, down-to-earth recipes for folks short on time.

Blogging

  • ProBlogger Why? Darren is the cream of online blogging resources.

Other

  • TED – Why? Hundreds of stimulating lectures and videos on a wide range of topics.

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