Thursday, June 16, 2016

DIY Magnetic Picture Frame (to easily change out your kids' artwork!)

It's summer over here, and I am fortunate in that I don't have to worry about the girls getting too much screen time. They're both pretty self-sufficient,  and while I'm sure they'd love to spend all day in front of the TV/Computer/iPad/AnyScreenYouCanThinkOf, it's not hard to give them a short timeframe and then have them turn off what they're doing and get to doing something creative.

The Big Kid loves to make machines out of popsicle sticks and hot glue (think catapults and trebuchets), while the little one... Well, she likes to draw/color/paint/glue/cut.... General craft stuff.

And When she's finished with it, she wants to hang it up.

ALL. Of. It.

It's leading to so many holes in the walls of her room that I finally, Wednesday morning, put my foot down. It looked ridiculous in there.

So I made her these!

They're pieces of discarded vinyl blinds, held together by magnets. Changing the pieces out is so simple, and the best part? No more holes in the wall!

Well, I guess the best part is that you can make them, too. Out of pretty much anything you've got (1x2s, rulers, paint stirrers, leather straps... pretty much anything that'll hold it's shape at short lengths). To do it, here's whatcha need.

*Frame Material - I used vinyl blinds
*Way To Cut Frame Material - I used a box cutter
*Magnets (8 per frame)

*Framer's Square
*Marking tool (pen)

To begin, decide on the length you want your frames to be. I made mine 12", because that will hold 8.5x11" paper, and construction paper in landscape orientation. You'll need four pieces for each frame.

Mark and cut your lengths. I used my square to guide the box cutter, pressing firmly. If you're using vinyl blinds for this like I did, it's best to cut all the way through with the box cutter (so you should put something underneath it to protect the blade from cutting into concrete... I didn't). If you make a shallow cut and then bend it (TEMPTING!), it doesn't come out nicely.

The back is scribed/bent, the front is cut all the way through with the box cutter (which really only takes 2-3 cuts, so it doesn't save any time to not cut through it).

After you've your frame pieces, mark one piece per frame to drill the rope into (so if you're doing only one frame, you'll only drill into one piece).

I measured 1" in on both sides, and stacked all three of my pieces (because I did three frames) and drilled through all three.

Okay, here is where I usually end up ruining frames. I SUCK at making the ropes equal, so I either have to hold them level, and then hammer in uneven places on the wall to get them to hang level, or if I hammer the nails even, the frames are uneven.


So I've started tying the first side of the rope in the hole, and then measuring the same length for each rope, and tying the other side near that length.

Here, I measured from the knot on the right out 12" and marked the rope. I cut the rope, leaving a few extra inches to help tie the knot, and started tying the knot so that the mark was right by the knot on the other side.

This, and the evenly drilled holes, made it to where my ropes were all the same length! It may not seem like much, but it's something that I struggled with BIG TIME.

Now it's time to glue the magnets on.


Um... make sure that the magnets have their magnetic sides facing. I mean, triple check.. Because pulling off magnets to turn them around is no bueno. Also no fun. Not that I'd know.

To get mine evenly spaced (and to make sure the magnetic sides were facing), I stuck them together and hot glued one side onto the back "frame". Then I added hot glue to the top of the other magnet, and placed the other frame on top, lining it up with the bottom frame.

Now you'll have the top and bottom of your frame!

To insert the art, first, hang the top piece with the rope-piece closest too the wall, and take the front piece off.

Next, position the bottom pieces on the bottom of the picture, leaving an even amount of space on each side.

Finally, position the art in front of the top wall piece, and place the front of the frame, securing the art between the magnets.

And there you have it!

This is The Big Kid's art from this previous school year <3

Super simple frames that make changing the pieces.... super simple!


Glue the magnets toward the middle of the frame a bit so that you can hang smaller pieces of art than the frames.

The art has to be secured between the magnets.

If you're using heavy material to make the frame from, you will either need stronger magnets, or additional magnets. This also applies if you're hanging heavier pieces.


I love this more modern take on hanging kids art (versus a clothespins or cork boards), and think I may be trying it to hang some pieces that I haven't bought frames for yet!

Do you think this is something you could use in your house?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

DIY Ender Dragon Costume AGAIN!

Okay, I KNOW! I should become the Mom-of-an-Ender-Dragon-Lover blog. But this is big!!


The Big Kid keeps telling me that it was my idea to add glowing eyes, but I'm not entirely sure that I believe her. My idea or not, I got stuck with the actual act of making he eyes glow, and we had a couple of hours to kill at a local hackerspace (the Big Kid was 3D printing a comb) so that was the perfect time to do it.

I'm going to admit my very non-creative idea was to cut the shape of the eyes from card stock, paint it to look like the Ender Dragon's eyes, and put a purple glow stick behind it.

Yes, it's laughable.

Thank GOODNESS for people that are way smarter than me, because when I explained what I was wanting to do, Trish and Jasper (the hosts at the Lab that night) jumped in and we left with this epicness.

Really, I can't tell you how it was done. I went to Target to get some purple LED lights and a 9V battery, and the magicians (*cough* electricians? engineers? LED Gods/Goddesses?) in the lab did everything else.

WAIT! I poked the holes into the box where the LEDs were to go, and painted white pixels on the back of the frosted acrylic so the eyes would be accurate.

The light doesn't shine as brightly where it's more opaque. It was a small detail that I wasn't sure would have much of an impact, but it does a surprisingly good job of keeping the eyes pixelated. SCORE!!

Not that that compares at all to all of the other work that went into it.

I have told the Big Kid that there will be no more changes to this costume. It has reached peak awesomeness.

She may take that as a challenge. 

For those of you who are new to this, the Ender Dragon costume has been a work-in-progress for two years.

It started out as a store-bought Enderman head and became this sad costume with flaps of fabric for wings (details here).

Then she asked for better wings to wear to ComiCon, so we built a set of articulating wings and called it "done" (details here).

Well, it was obviously not "done".

Semi-related (in that it's still Halloween), here's my house this year.

It's not much different than last year, but we have a projector in the front window, projecting creepy Halloween scenes (AtmosFEARfx, if anyone's interested). There are also some witches by the front door, but I need to tweak the lighting on them because no photo of them has turned out well. You know I'll share one if I take one!!

How's your Halloween decorating/costume-making-or-buying coming along? I'd LOVE to hear!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Enderdragon Pinata

The Big Kid turned ten last week.

Yes, ten. I now have a double-digit child.

If you've been around a while, I'm sure you've figured out that the kid's obsessed with Minecraft.

As chronicled here (DIY Foam Minecraft Weapons)

And here (DIY Enderdragon Costume)

And finally, here (DIY articulating wings for the Enderdragon costume).

Well, now we get to add to this obsession..

It's safe to say there's an Enderdragon trend.

The Big Kid asked me on Friday night if we could make a piñata for a small get-together we were planning for Monday. Having never made a piñata based on... well... anything, I wasn't sure how this was going to go, but we had a busy weekend planned, so it had to go smoothly.

We gathered all the cardboard we could find, and constructed this.

Basically, we winged it. I disassembled most of these boxes and cut/taped them back together to create proportionate body parts. Important, I cut 3 sides of a rectangle in the body so I would have a place to put candy.

Saturday morning consisted of us quickly giving the dragon a base coat of black spray paint and cutting the tissue paper into strips to apply when we got home.

I began applying the strips at the bottom of the body, and worked my way around. The next strip slightly overlapped the row below it, like roofing shingles!

This was the longest part of the whole project.

Project tip: Don't use a fan when applying these strips to the piñata body. Just... trust me.

After it was all covered, the Big Kid and I made 15 rectangular cubes from a cereal box (they measured 1/2" x 3 1/2" x 1 1/2") for the "spikes" and nostrils, and I cut out some eyes from white and purple construction paper.

Before attaching everything that we'd made, it seemed like this was a good time to attempt wings.

Now, I cut strips of cardboard for the lines in the wings and painted them grey. Then for the black, I layered three sheets of tissue paper (with spray adhesive) and cut it to fit between the lines and used spray adhesive to attach.

Do I have a picture of this?

Somewhere. I just can't find any right now.

Then to attach, I put a piece of cardboard across the back of the enderdragon (painted black to later cover with tissue paper so it all blended in).

Then attached the wings to that! At first I tried to just use hot glue, but that didn't hold. Eventually I found some small bolts/nuts and put one on each wing into the "support". While I was at it, I bolted the support to the body... Needless to say, the wings didn't come off while it was being hit.

Then we attached the spikes, nostrils and eyes (hot glue), and he was almost finished! We ended up doing legs super last minute, but we just cut out cardboard, painted it black, and hot glued them on.

Going into this, I had no idea what the final scale was doing to be. He measured in at 4' 9" long. 

It really looked like a dragon!

The Big Kid had a brilliant idea to use the Minecraft Steve head as a sort of "blindfold", so we just turned it to it's side while they hit  it with Mr. Goats' shinai (for the record, a shinai plus cardboard piñata is a bad combination. The cardboard's too tough and the shinai is made to have "give" so that it doesn't hurt you... It just... didn't work!). 

If I were to do this over, I would've scaled it down significantly, but also figured out a way to paper mache or use less sturdy cardboard.  We ended up beating the thing to death.

But in the end, she and her friends LOVED it, and I got one "Cool Mom" point.

Have you made any piñatas recently?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How My Faucet Affects My Day

Hey everyone!

I'm sure by now we all know that in the months leading up to October, LadyGoats is obsessing over Halloween. You'll get your post on that! However, today, I want to share with you why my coffee tastes better.

Before we begin, though, I have to legally tell you that I was provided with a free faucet in exchange for my feedback. No, they're not bribing me. If I hated it, I'd tell you. All of the opinions given are my own, nobody told me what to say.

So here's what I have to say..


If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen that I recently installed a new faucet and that I was going to live with it for a while before letting you know what I think.

And I think I love it.

This is the Pfister Clarify with Xtract. Pfister and GE partnered to create a faucet with a built-in filter, so you're getting filtered water straight from your faucet. Yeah, yeah... that's pretty cool, but you can get the same thing by adding another line, drilling another hole in your sink and adding an under-cabinet filtration system. Except you don't have to.

This is a big deal for ME because, while we have filtered water in the fridge, it takes forrrr evvvv errrr to fill up a cup. It was getting to a point where Mr. Goats suggested that we get a 5-gal water dispenser. I'm sorry, but no.

Needless to say, when Pfister asked if I would like to review this project, I may have screamed "OMG YESSS I NEED THIS IN MY LIIIIIIFE!!!" at the computer. Twice.

Since we'd recently installed a faucet, Mr. Goats and I were pretty comfortable with the procedure. The extra steps are to install the filtration system, which is covered in the manual and very easy to follow.

In fact, the only thing I had a problem with was the built-in baseplate seal. The baseplate comes with what's called the Pforever seal, but it wasn't able to cover all three of the holes on my sink.

It seems like a truly great idea, but it was just too narrow at the ends, and there was no way we could maneuver it to completely cover all of the holes.

But it was a simple fix.

I ran and got some coffee... and some silicone... and ran a bead around the baseplate making it water tight.

You guys, the mess.... it's real life.

Anyhow, the faucet is installed, and we now use filtered water to make coffee (Seriously you guys, it's AMAZING!!), tea, and in cooking. I thought it would be nice to have this just to stop Mr. Goats from buying a water dispenser, but... It seriously makes my coffee taste better!!

To compare, I think it tastes better than the fridge filter, but not life-shatteringly better. The girls don't even notice a difference.

Long story short, I love it.

How's your water filtration system? Do you argue over the beauty-over-function of a water dispenser, or have you surrendered?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Updated DIY Ender Dragon Costume - Articulating wings

You guys, this Ender Dragon costume has been a huge hit on my blog for a while, but it's been even bigger in this house. The Big Kid is still obsessed, but she asked me if I could make better wings.

I think she just wanted wings that sat on her back and didn't restrict her arm movement, but we can't go for just... better...

We do AWESOME over here!!

She'd asked for these wings about 10 days before Phoenix ComiCon, so we didn't have a whole lotta time to research/prepare/make them, and I definitely made some mistakes that I'll share so you *don't* make them (I mean, if you happen to be making a pair of Ender Dragon Articulating wings...), but all-in-all, it's safe to say that these wings exceeded her expectations.

The "skeleton" of the wings is made from a 2x4 that I ripped into 1/4" strips, but you can use 1/4" plywood, balsa wood, or laminate flooring (this isn't as random as it seems yet... look below).

Whatever you use, you'll need strips that are 1 1/2" x 1/4". The wings are attached to some scrap laminate flooring from Baby Goats' closet makeover which is hinged together to allow her to "flap" her wings (or, really, have the ability to move on more than one plane).

You'll need

  • 2 - 8' strips of 1/4" ply ripped at 1 1/2"
  • 2 - 1/4" ply at 4"x8" (approx)
  • 2 hinges
  • 26* - 3/4" bolts with coordinating washers/nuts (I bought this 100-ct pack)
  • something to use as straps (I used backpack straps), 
  • about 2 yards of structured black fabric (you don't want "flowy" for fraying fabric - trust me)
  • silver ribbon
  • string (I used 2 black shoe laces)
*I used 2 to the the shoe lace arm bands, so you might add 2 if you want to do this.

Note: I'm not sure how much ribbon since I messed up many times and had to go buy more a couple of times. I would buy 6 yards of 2" thick ribbon and probably 10 yards of 1" (give or take... if you can only find 3/4" ribbon, use that). But... I would probably have to go back and buy more, knowing me.

Cut List:

  • 4 @ 14 3/4"
  • 2 @ 12"
  • 2 @ 24"
  • 2 @ 19 3/4"

Here's my sketch of the measurements (Mr. Goats did most of the skeleton twiddling until we got to this point).  Refer to the image above for layout (you want to pre-drill the holes for the string - those go on the bottom 14 3/4" board, close to where it meets the 19 3/4" board).

Any time you see boards that are parallel, the holes for the bolts are drilled 4" apart. Mr. Goats got the general idea for how to do this here, but we dumbed it down so that we mere mortals could figure it out with time to "upholster" it? Is it upholstering..? I'm getting distracted....

To get it on her back, I cut the straps off of an old backpack and punched a tiny hole through the top and bottom, then bolted it to the flooring. To make sure the fabric didn't tear, I added super glue where the bolt went through the fabric and used washers on both sides of the fabric so that the weight was somewhat distributed.

To deal with the fabric, I really, truly did not have this easy. This is still not perfect, but here's the final outcome of my wing.

Here's how I got there. First, I cut the two yards of fabric into two one yard pieces (I believe my fabric was 54"W). Then I folded the yard in half, hot dog style, and came up with the general shape.

The pattern was eyeballed, but I decided that I wanted the "scallops" to go all the way to the bottom of the fabric (uhh, the bigger, the better... RIGHT?!).

With the fabric still folded in half, I cut out the shape of the wings and tucked my fully extended wing frame inside. Here are the following steps (it seemed easier to put it on one image than to try to show you the confusing, individual images). Remember, the front and back of the wings are to be decorated (the ribbon is really all that applies to this).

When that was done, I HOT GLUED the 2" ribbon the the top of the wing, where the top board goes. When I tried to attach it to the entire top of the wing, it drooped and looked t.e.r.r.i.b.l.e. when the wings weren't fully extended, so I decided to veer from the actual ender dragon wing there. Also, the top of the wing frame was poking through my fabric, so I made a "relief" cut, giving room for the board to push out without ripping the fabric. I think if you have a sturdier fabric, you might not need that. I used hot glue to attach the wing to the frame. It was only needed at one point as it's mostly held in place by the top board sitting in the sleeve, but after you get yours on, you'll be able to figure out the best place to glue it if you need to.


See the string poking out? Thread that into the predrilled hole and tie it, then cut a slit from the bottom of the wing (so the fabric doesn't bunch when the arms are raised) and tie a loop for your arms to go through.

Some words of advice:

As much as you think wire will make this look awesome/stiff when extended, IT'S A BAD IDEA!! The wire bends and doesn't un-bend easily, leaving a warped wing.

You can hot glue the ribbons down the bottom of the wing, but it doesn't look good. Take the time to sew them... you'll be glad you did!

You may have to tuck in the fabric and tack it in place using either hot glue or a needle and thread to get it to sit the way you want. The extra 10(ish) minutes of fiddling with it will make a huge difference.

This isn't really heavy, but the Big Kid did have to take a couple of breaks from it at ComiCon.


Take a lint roller with you.

Update: Here's a picture of her with her wings down. This was the only one I'd gotten because... well, why would she want to take a picture with these awesome wings down..!? ;-)

They got compact enough for her to walk through crows, and fortunately she was able to grab them and wrap them around her if she needed to squeeze through tight spaces (doorways).

UPDATE! We've lit up the eyes!

DIY Minecraft Weapons

Enderdragon Costume

Enderdragon pinata