Ok, it's not the Bellagio...

But it is a nice addition to the back patio! When you have a small patio in a town home or condo, it's nice to have a little fountain to help ease the stress of the day away while you sit back with a cocktail. I went out looking for a little something that wasn't fairies or bullfrogs that I could put out on the patio. Everything was either too big, made of lousy acryllic, or just plain ugly. After thinking about it I said I can do this! I rustled up some copper pipe and my handy dandy soldering kit. I went to the local hardware store and picked up some glass flowers for light fixtures, and went to work. I have a junk box that keep all sorts of miscelaneous junk in. This time I had a sheet of copper that I traced a leaf from the tree in the front yard on, and cut out for my flower leaves. I then stripped some old speaker wire for the copper wire inside to use as the stems to wrap and affix to the copper pipe. I had to purchase a pump and a bucket, but if you keep an eye out for the good deals you might get lucky. I found this bucket on sale from $40 on clearance for $5! All those days of playing in the sand box and building fountains when I was a kid was going to pay off. When all was said and done, it cost $100 but the pump was almost $70 of that. This fountain will, as it ages, patina into a nice green for the flower sterms and petals, with the glass staying as it is. It even looks better at night because I put little votives in the dry flowers for a fantastic centerpiece for my little corner of paradise.

It's a piece of cake!

Not too long ago we celebrated my sons birthday and I had to come up with a cake. I didn't want to pay an arm and a leg for a toddlers birthday cake, but the insecure little boy in me wanted to do something special; you know, something that would WOW the other parents. Let's face it when the budget is tight you don't have the cash for something flashy, but to come out with a sheet cake still in it's pan with some frosting slapped on it, and some candles wouldn't satisfy me either. Armed with three home made sheet cakes, my mom's famous butter creme frosting recipe, and a plastic face I pulled off a previously massacred children's book, I set out to work. Using a very sharp serraded knife I began to cut the layers from the bottom and work my way up the form. Using a toy as my guide and toothpicks to hold the pieces in place temporarly, I constructed a very useful engine. I used chocolate chips for the coal in the tender, Hershey's Kisses for the bumpers, chocolate mints for the boiler supports, and two sugar-free butterscotch candies for the whistles on the top. Everything on the cake (except the face) was edible... no toothpicks. This was a free standing three layer birthday cake! I stayed up until three in the morning frosting it, but when all was said and done I had made myself happy, and gotten my little one to talk about the cake for weeks, not to mention ooh's and aah's from the other parents. Childish insecurity? - probably.

Thinking inside the can...

Recently the fetching Mrs. Cook and I were discussing playroom plans for our two boys. Since we have a limited budget for this project we want to make sure that form doesn't suffer for function. Our oldest loves trains and the other likes airplanes. I wanted to incorporate these things in the room, but popular store and catalog solutions tend to be expensive. I decided to take matters into my own hands. We have a ton of raw materials right here in the recycling bin just waiting to be turned into trains and planes. It just takes a little thinking inside the can. I started with a box of dish washing detergent, a couple aluminum cans, and a two liter soda bottle. As the glue gun fired away, the train began to take form. Additionally I added a battery or two, a children's medicine measuring cup, the cap to the litre bottle, the plastic retainer that came with our old Christmas lights, and other miscellaneous bits of junk you could find around the house, or in my scrap box. My scrap box consists of a plastic crate that I randomly chuck things into that I think are interesting in shape or substance. Things like old headlights from the car after they're dead, or spare parts from a TV mount when the VCR was installed. The point is that you never know when those interesting bits of junk can be resurrected into something cool. After a few hours and some black and blue spray paint, I had a locomotive. When it is completely finished, it will be mounted on a simple wooden plaque on the playroom wall. This is a simple and cost effective way to bring that decorators touch to a limited budget.

Train Parts Diagram

Train Parts Diagram
All these parts were Recycled.