Thirst-Quenching Wind Chime

My grandparents have always had a lot of wind chimes at their house.  I’m not sure whether they really like wind chimes or just that a lot of people have given wind chimes to them.  I’m hoping their reasoning for having so many is that they really love wind chimes because I decided to make them one for Christmas.  To put a spin on it, I chose to make the wind chime out of bottle caps.

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SUPPLIES

- Bottle Caps
If you drink out of glass bottles often, it should be easy for you to gather your main supply!  I, on the other hand, went online to purchase some bottle caps.  A simple Google search will yield many possibilities…vintage, silver, multi-colored, etc.  You will definitely have many choices.  I bought a pack of 50 vintage bottle caps. Fifty was a sufficient amount, but I would have liked to have maybe 5-10 more than that.

- Jump Rings
In addition to the bottle caps, I stopped in the jewelry section of a crafts store to pick up some jump rings to connect the caps together.  I bought two different sizes for variety.  The amount you will need will depend on how long you want your wind chime to be.

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- Pliers
The jump rings are pretty small, so you’ll probably need some help holding onto them (…unless you make jewelry, and you’ve mastered this skill without one)!  I purchased a three-pack of pliers and cutters for this project and for future use.  I used both of the pliers  in the three-pack to hold onto the rings and twist them.  I would suggest using two needle-nosed pliers if you have them rather than using the round nose pliers.

- Punch Pliers
I bought 1.8mm punch pliers to make the holes in the bottle caps to connect them together.  This was an ideal size for the bottle caps.
*Reminder:  Make sure you buy a punch pliers that punches holes big enough for the size rings you purchased (or that you buy rings small enough to fit through the hole made by the pliers).

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- Jar Cover
I was making a fairly small wind chime, so a pickle jar cover was the perfect size for mine!
*Reminder:  Make sure you wash the cover really well if there was something in it previously.  My wind chime still smelled a little like pickles despite the repeated washing.  Sorry, grandma…I hope you like the smell of pickles!

- Drill
To connect the rings to the top of the wind chime (the jar cover).

THE MAKING OF…

Step 1:  Punch some holes!IMG_0663resize
This was the easiest part of this project.  Simply punch holes with your punch pliers on two sides of the bottle cap.  Try to make the holes directly across from each other, but it’s not a big deal if it’s not perfectly lined up.  The grooves in the side of the bottle cap sometimes get in the way and require you to make a hole that is slightly off-centered from the hole on the opposite side.

Step 2:  Ring it up!Attach bottle caps in chains at varying lengths and distances between bottle caps. This will allow the caps to clink together better once your chime is completed.
Use your pliers to open up the jump rings, making sure you only open the ring enough to slide one end through the hole in the bottle cap.  You don’t want to be twisting the ring too much so that it breaks.  Once you’ve put a side of the ring through the bottle cap hole, use your pliers to bend the ring back together so that the link is closed and that it is securely connected to the bottle cap.  Do the same to link rings together at varying lengths, attaching another bottle cap every once in a while (so that you have unique chains of bottle caps as shown in the photo).

Step 3:  Create a “cap” for your chime!IMG_0673
You can use different items to be the cover for your wind chime depending on how big you want your chime to be.  I used a pickle jar cover.  To attach the chains of bottle caps to the cover, I punched  holes in the side of the cover just as I did on the side of the bottle caps (as shown on the right).

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Depending on the size of the cover you’re using, this may be sufficient.  My cover was big enough that having chains around the edge of the cover wouldn’t be enough to have the chains clink together.  Therefore, I used a drill to make some holes on top the cover to allow chains to hang in the middle as well.  I did this by drilling two holes in multiple areas in order to be able to loop a jump ring through the cover to hang a chain of bottle caps from.  Additionally, I attached a key chain hook to the top of the cover in the middle to hang the chime from.

Step 4:  Chime it up!IMG_0681
Finally, use your pliers to create a chain of jump rings, connecting this chain to the rings on the cover of the chime and to a chain of bottle caps.  I put at least three rings in between the cover and the first bottle cap.  You may find that your wind chime leans towards a certain side.  You can fix this by adding a bottle cap to a chain on the opposite side to balance the weight better.

Make sure all the links on your wind chime are closed, and you should be good to go!  I would suggest you keep this wind chime inside by a window since I’m not sure how well it would hold up outside on a windy day.

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Dream. Be inspired. Create.

Cake + Sandwich = Cakewich

Who doesn’t like a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
Now imagine how good that sounds as a cake!

My boyfriend, Zach, and I have always had an ongoing inside joke about sandwiches (as strange as that may sound).  Shortly after we started dating, his birthday was coming up.  I wanted to make something special for him and happened to come across a cakewich mold.  It was the perfect idea and was definitely something special since we frequently had “sandwich parties” (more commonly known as a picnic).  I even put the peanut butter and jelly cakewich in a brown paper bag with his name on it and with a note inside.

Since the cake turned out to be pretty delicious, I thought I would share the recipe on how to make this cake, which could be done with a simple 8×8″ pan for the bread if you don’t want to buy a cakewich mold.  You’ll see in the photos that I did not put any jelly on the cake as the recipe calls for.  Zach doesn’t like jelly, so I simply used a purple gel.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cakewich
(from the Cakewich mold box)

INGREDIENTS:

Cake:

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup milk

Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • heaping 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I would not recommend using natural peanut butter)
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fruit jelly, slightly warmed

DIRECTIONS:

For the cake:

  1. Set rack at the middle level and pre-heat oven to 315°F.
  2. Grease and flour the inner bottom surface of your Cakewich cake pan.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, mixing well with a whisk.
  4. Whisk together the egg whites and milk by hand in a medium mixing bowl until just combined.
  5. In a heavy-duty mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add vanilla, and beat vigorously.
  6. Reduce speed to low and add one-quarter of the flour, then one-third of the milk mixture, mixing until just combined, scraping down the bowl and beater after each addition. Repeat until all ingredients are just combined.
  7. Scrape the bowl well with a large rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the Cakewich pan and smooth the top.
  8. Bake for about 60 to 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean.
  9. Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for one hour, then unmold it to finish cooking right side up.

For the frosting:

  1. Place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl, and beat with an electric mixer for several minutes until combined.
  2. Gradually mix in the sugar until combined.
  3. Add vanilla and beat for 3 minutes until fluffy.

To assemble:

  1. Using a serrated bread knife, slice off a top layer of the Cakewich so that the top of the cake is flat  (YAY! This means there will be scraps to eat!). Then horizontally slice again through the center so that you can two pieces of cake (which will look like two slices of bread).
  2. Spread the peanut butter frosting on the first layer of cake.
  3. Spread a thin layer of jelly on top of the frosting (or if you don’t like jelly, you can use a purple gel like I did).
  4. Place the second layer of cake on the first, making sure the cut side is visible.  For easier cutting, refrigerate the cake for one hour before serving.

If you are using jelly, you will spread the jelly over the entire surface. However, I used a purple gel around the edges only so that it would appear like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but would not contain any jelly.

     

Now it’s time to enjoy your peanut butter and jelly cakewich!

Be inspired. Create.

Lindsey Stirling, Hip Hop Violinist

I really admire Lindsey Stirling for the talent, creativity, and spunkiness that she reflects in her performances.  Lindsey Sterling is an hip hop violinist from Utah that combines a classical instrument with a very modern style.  She expresses herself by playing her violin while dancing and was even a finalist on America’s Got Talent.  If you want to read more about her, click here, but really you just need to watch the two videos below.

This is the first video I ever saw of Lindsey Stirling.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest you watch it.  You can really see her personality shine through in her music.

This is probably my favorite video of hers, so you’d better watch this one too!  =)

Dream. Be inspired. Do. Create.

Transforming Plain Glass into Frosted Elegance

I was trying to figure out what to get for my uncle for Christmas.  My mom mentioned that he needs a new set of drinking glasses, but simply buying glasses and giving them to him would have been far too boring.  Instead, I decided to try making these frosted glasses that I’ve seen on the internet many times before.  

     First, I stopped at the dollar store to pick up the drinking glasses, wine glasses, and rubber bands.  Instead of doing this for drinking glasses, you could also try it on vases, candle holders, or any other glass items.

On most of the websites that I found for this project, people were using glass etching aerosols.  However, most of those sprays are meant for glass doors, mirrors, and not for items that will come in contact with your mouth…Since I’m am doing this project for drinking glasses, I continued to search around for something that explicitly states that the product is non-toxic.  The only non-toxic product I was able to find is this Martha Stewart Glass Frost Paint, which I believe was about $3 at a craft store.  This paint is intended for use on both ceramic and glass surfaces.  Since it is a paint and not an aerosol, you will also need a paint brush if you don’t already have one.

Before you start anything, make sure you wash the glasses with warm water and soap.  After your glasses are free from dust and dirt, you can begin wrapping the rubber bands around the glasses.  This step took me far more time than I had expected it to.  Since the wine glasses are curved, the rubber bands tended to slide a little, so you’ll have to be patient in this step if you are working with any sort of curved surfaces.  You can make any design you want with the rubber bands.  I generally tried to make them a little wavy and occasionally made the rubber bands overlap as well.  In addition, I put a thick rubber band on the lips of all the glasses so that your mouth would not go directly on the frosted paint on the glass.

Before starting to paint your glasses, you’ll want to put down some old newspapers or magazines to protect the surface you are working on.  Before beginning, it is recommended that you do not shake the bottle but rather that you roll the bottle on your counter top several times to mix the paint.  

Now you’re ready to start frosting your glasses!
When painting your glasses, be careful not to move the rubber bands, which would smudge the frost paint.  Apply a thin, even layer of paint to the entire surface that you want to be frosted.

I cannot stress it enough that the paint should be applied thinly.  The first glass I made, I put a thick layer on because it didn’t look as frosted as I wanted.  However, when the paint dries, the glass will appear more frosted than when the paint was wet.  Also, if you apply the paint too thickly, the paint will not have smooth lines bordering the rubber band strips since the rubber bands will not be as easy to cleanly remove after the paint has dried.

               

Once you have fully painted your glass, let the paint dry fully before taking off the rubber bands.  The paint appears to dry very quickly (within an hour), but I waited a day before removing the rubber bands.  When removing the bands, I found that the easiest way to do so was pulling part of the rubber band away from the glass and cutting it with a scissors.  However, you will have to use a lot of rubber bands if you do it this way.  For the most part, I gently removed the rubber bands and then reused them for the next batch of glasses (I didn’t paint them all at once).

Finally, to cure the paint to increase its durability, the frost paint bottle suggests you either air cure or oven bake it (based on the instructions given by the frost paint bottle).

  • Air Dry Instructions:  “Air dry project for 21 days before use.”
  • Oven Bake Instructions:  “Place project in cool oven. Set oven temperature to 350ºF and bake for 30 minutes. Glass must heat gradually with the oven to avoid breakage. Do not place glass in hot oven. After 30 minutes, turn the oven off. Let glass cool completely in oven. Do not use for 72 hours.”

…and voilà!

Dream. Be inspired. Create.

Now or Never – Do Something Crazy!

You don’t need to be jumping off cliffs to do something wild and crazy.  No matter where you are, there are plenty of new things you can try.  Grab some friends and hike or bike a new trail (the Tunnel Trail in WI is pretty awesome), play with chalk on you driveway or sidewalk, learn how to dance or play an instrument, go out and photograph your favorite spots or people, run a colorful race…the possibilities are endless!

Dream. Be inspired.  Do.  Create.

A Week’s Supply of Love Notes


Photo from of The Dating Divas

For my boyfriend’s first week of college this year, I created this little seven-day reminder that I love him.  This would also work well for a friend, son, daughter, or anyone else who will be away for a week or more.  It’s an easy and inexpensive way to make someone smile while they’re away.

I got this idea from The Dating Divas’ webpage.  All you have to do is get a 7-day pill-box (I got mine at the dollar store) and put a little note and small treat in each of the compartments for each day of the week.  To make it even easier if you’re not in a very creative mood, The Dating Divas provide a printout of seven notes you can include in your pill-box.  I used all the printouts for mine, but I also brought out my colored pencils to color in backgrounds of the printed notes and also add in my own little love notes in addition to what was printed on the slip.  I found that those two additions gave it a nice personal touch instead of having just printed out someone else’s words.  Either way, it probably would have been fine.  My boyfriend most likely has no idea that I didn’t actually type up the printed parts of the notes on my own (Well, unless he decides to start reading my blog…haha).

For the little treats for each day, it was more difficult than I was expecting to find enough different treats that would fit in the small compartments (and I even bought a pill-box that was fairly large in comparison to some others I saw).  It didn’t help that my boyfriend is a really picky eater either!

Here are some ideas for daily treats:
*the treats I used for mine

  • Chocolate Chips*
  • Mini Reese Cups*
  • Broken Pieces of a Chocolate Bar*
  • M&Ms*
    (could be all the varieties even….plain, peanut, peanut butter, etc.)
  • Animal Crackers*
  • Goldfish Crackers*
  • Mini Marshmallows*
  • Skittles
  • Gum
  • Mints
  • Jelly Beans
  • Etc!

I would suggest that you refrain from using too many chocolate treats if you are giving this to someone who will not have access to A/C (i.e. college dorms).  I put the chocolate treats at the beginning of the week, so they wouldn’t be sitting around for too long.

Click here for more craft tutorials on The Dating Divas website.  There are quite a few cute ideas for creative dates and gifts!

Be inspired. Do. Create.

“Water! Cookies! Coca-Cola! Vaseline! Oranges”: The Sounds of the Ironman Triathlon

“Caffeine! Coca-Cola! Water! Caffeine! Coca-Cola! Get your caffeine fix here! Water!”   (along with the constant blasting of music)

This is all I’ve been hearing from outside my window all day today.  “Why?” you might ask.  Well, the Ironman Triathlon is taking place in Madison, WI today, and a food and drink station for the running portion of the Ironman is immediately outside my window.  At times, this constant noise has gotten to be a little annoying while I’m trying to study.  At the same time, I’m completely okay with it because at this point in the race, the athletes are probably exhausted  and really excited about the “Caffeine! Coca-Cola! and Water!”


For anyone who is not familiar with the Ironman Triathlon, it is a race consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 122-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run (that’s a marathon, by the way)!  I bet most Olympians would be intimidated by this race even.  I can’t even imagine how much training it would take to prepare for an Ironman.

Like I said, the Ironman route goes right by my apartment for the running portion of the race.  I went outside for a while to take a break from studying and take some photos of the racers.

I was incredibly surprised to see how energetic and actually happy people looked as they ran past me.  Then again, they were coming up to the food and drink station, so that was probably why.  There’s music blasting too, which probably helps a lot.  I know that I wouldn’t be able to do a race that long without music to keep me going.

One of the things I really like about watching the Ironman race every year is that everyone cheers for everyone.  It’s a really motivating atmosphere no matter who you are.  As you can see in this photo, some of the volunteers dress up or something to help the racers smile and get their minds off their exhaustion for even the most brief moment.

I know one person that has completed an Ironman, and I admire him greatly for that.  I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of strength and endurance it takes to completed such a long race.  Kudos to all you Ironman racers out there today/tonight!

If you’re thinking about doing the Ironman now, click here for some tips on how to succeed.  Good luck!!!

Some inspiring Ironman stories:

Iron Heart – Brian Boyle:  http://www.iron-heart.org/about-brian.php

Dick and Rick Hoyt:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDnrLv6z-mM&w=420&h=315

Dream. Be inspired. Do.