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HT Make a Unique Lake for HO Scale Model Train Layout

My son was lucky enough to be given an HO scale model train layout on long-term loan. It has 10 switches, a bridge, and came with an assortment of buildings. But somehow, it was still a little plain.

There was a large open area that my son decided needed a lake. Now I will show you the process of how we created the lake. This is what I was up to while I was finishing Angry Macey and why I had no time to blog.

ECO ALERT: The great news about this project is we made it with almost entirely recycled materials!

First I begged my husband to retrieve a piece of scrap wood out of the rafters of the garage for me. Then I had to clean off said wood. Then I put it on the layout and did a rough estimate of where I needed to cut. Use the appropriate saw to make the job easier. (I did not.) Sand rough edges.

I present to you Guitar Lake, so named because, well, it looks like a guitar.

Guitar Lake

Then we painted it blue, darker in the deep spots. We painted it white where the current from the lake dumps in.

Guitar Lake painted

Next we decorated it to our liking. This is where you can have the real fun!

I insisted I would only help him with this project if I could put the Loch Ness Monster into the lake. Then I had to explain what the Loch Ness Monster was. I painted an outline of his body coming out of the dark depths of the lake. Then I glued down a small wooden peg. I cut the head off of a dollar store dinosaur for the head. The buoys are painted wooden stakes. Watch out for the electric eel and the shark. There is a pop can because my son said to be realistic, the lake needed litter.

We began adding painted and physical accessories. Beware the Loch Ness Monster who guards the sunken pirate ship and its treasure!

We coated the surface of the water with Mod Podge. (Beware, Mod Podge remains sticky to the touch and may attract dust. But, it is also pretty inexpensive for a project such as this.) We used more Mod Podge to glue sand for a beach, pebbles, and small rocks for the shore. I wish I had built up the beach a little more, because much of the sand fell off after the glue dried.

To be thrifty, we collected the sand and rocks from outside, then baked them in the oven to kill any bugs because, bugs–YUCK.

The lake laid in place with the river.

 

A view from the deep end, complete with Hot Wheels boat.

My husband said we needed a mermaid. I just happened to have one of those laying around the house.

A view from the beach. Swimmers beware the mermaid’s song.

And that completes the lake project.

But, in the meantime, we came in possession of two train cranes within 24 hours: one functional, one not. You know me, I had to find a use for the broken crane. Taking a cue from many other more sophisticated layouts we have seen, I decided to age the crane. I started with some graffiti. (I Googled graffiti generators until I found a design I liked.) I added rust and dirt with acrylic craft paint as well.

Damn hoodlums, vandalize everything in the whole damn railyard.

I glued on some moss to make it seem as if it had not moved in a very long while. Here is a side by side comparison of the good crane vs. the broken one.

New vs. Aged

Then my husband had a great idea to make a whole abandoned track.

Sad, abandoned track

It was so fun that my husband decided to age his own engine (not pictured here). I have no doubt we will be aging more non-functioning stock in the future.

And you might think that is the end of our railroad upgrades.

That is, until the ZOMBIES showed up…

Beware the impending zombie attack!

Your past shapes you. It can’t be undone.
ANGRY MACEY
NOW AVAILABLE $.99!

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INSPIRATION HITS: Love Yourself Custom Bicycle

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Inspiration struck me over the 4th of July and I just could not resist giving in to it.

I have probably had my bicycle for roughly 15 years. I love that it doesn’t have multiple gears, that it has coaster brakes, and that it can coast for a very long time. But everything else about it I pretty much have disliked from the beginning.

The colors are to die for. As in, “I have fallen & I can’t get up.”

I waged a battle to attempt to keep air in my tires for a decade. I changed the tubes. I even had to change a tire. All I could find was a dirt bike tire, but then that affected the cruisability. Finally, I put in tubes with Slime in them, and got a replacement tire that was meant for a cruiser bike. That finally remedied the problem for the time being.

For five years, I had a small child that I would chauffeur around on the back of it. I never realized how much weight he added (more each year) and how much his constant movement threw of my balance.

Until I removed the child seat this summer, that is. Yup, I got him off onto his own little ride with training wheels. My bike could be just mine again. (Kind of like after you birth them and your body gets to be only yours again, except not QUITE that drastic.)

In the process of removing the heinous decals.

It kept bothering me how much I had always detested the colors on my bicycle. Beige and burgundy? Come on, old lady colors. And I may be on my way, but I am no old lady yet. And the fact that it had sticker on it that said “Thruster”? Oh, please.

I remembered that my husband had said he had painted his bicycle when he was a kid. The idea wouldn’t leave my mind. I knew I would have to do it on a day when he was home to help disassemble it for me for easy painting. So, the 4th it was.

First I had to remove the remaining parts of the child seat, the remainder of a broken water bottle holder, and the dog walking apparatus.

How many people have a bike that matches their hair? C’mon, you gotta admit that is some cool shit.

My husband asked me how I settled on the colors of pink and black.

Um, my cell phone case, my hair colors, my key lanyard, the nail polish bottles sitting on top of the television, my shoes, my Utopia dress. How could he miss that these two colors have been taking over my life lately?

After I got the paint on, I decided it really did need a saying on it, but most definitely not “Thruster”. So, I went with my new life motto and cause: Love Yourself.

I used a Sharpie marker to color the white stitching and logo on the seat to pink.

It serves as a reminder to myself, and maybe someone will ask me about it and I can explain it to them. (If you want to read more about it, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/love-yourself/) Mostly I am worried teenagers will make fun of it. Because I have never gotten over the good ol’ days of getting bullied by my peers. (A rant for another day.)

New black handlebar grips are on order from eBay as we speak.

I did learn a few things from this crafting experience:

1. If your fenders don’t rub on your tires, you probably shouldn’t mess with them because that kind of harmony takes a long time to establish.

2. If you are going to spray paint, do at least two coats. This never, ever occurred to me until my husband had the bike pieced back together again. It would have given it a little more durability against scratches.

3. Consider a clear coat to protect your creation. I love the matte/satin finish of my paints. But the original paint job had a durable clear coat that was very good at protecting the original ugly paint from scratches. (FYI–I did sand that a bit with a fine grit sandpaper, followed by a wash before I proceeded with my repaint job.) I spent a whole day creating a masterpiece, and now I constantly worry that one tip over will scratch off all that I have done.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

The Fifteen-Year Quilt

Before I had a kid and before I devoted all my free time to creating physical manifestations of my colorful imagination on pulverized trees (i.e. books), I used to have this crazy thing called free time. Ya, it didn’t seem like it then, but I did. I tried my hand at many crafts during that time: wood-burning, cross-stitch, hot glue creations, latch-hook. One of my more daring projects was when I decided to make a quilt.

I had never made one before, didn’t know anyone who had, didn’t know how to do it. Like most everything, I researched the right way to do it…

…And then threw that out the window and made up my own way.

I started with some old clothes I cut up into squares. But I needed more material. So I went to JoAnn’s and bought all the cheap scraps of material I could find. I would probably pick different ones today. The overall theme of my quilt?

“Making a quilt.”

That’s it. There are tractors and stars and chefs and flowers, all sharing the same space. At some point, my future husband and I knew that we were going to buy a queen size bed. I decided to make it big enough to fit the bed.

What!?

I must have been crazy, you say?

Annnd you would be correct.

First time quilters out there–> do not make your first one queen-sized. (You will NEVER want to ever attempt another ever again.)

A close-up of the swirly quilting pattern I created myself.

A close-up of the swirly quilting pattern I created myself.

I don’t remember what kind of batting I bought, but I know it is fairly thick. Many of the top squares are flannel or sweatshirt material. I decided the back should be fleece. I know, not a traditional quilt backing. Just the other day I found the original receipt for it in the scraps. $72.23. $72.23! JUST FOR THE FLEECE ALONE! I could buy a quilt made by children in China cheaper. Oh, the date on the receipt? September 24,2002.

You see, I put all the layers together, basting and safety pinning them. Then I threw it in a garbage bag (to keep the dust off) and neglected it for 15 years. It had been so long since I worked on it that my husband said he didn’t even remember me starting it. That is, until I reminded him about when I had it spread out across our entire living room floor in my apartment and he walked on it, getting a needle in his foot in the process. That he does remember.

A close-up of the borders.

A close-up of the borders.

All those intervening years, I had anxiety over it. I kept adding it to To-Do lists, but it never got To-Done. We moved into our house. I designated a whole bedroom as a craft room with a vision of finishing that project. But we changed it into a railroad station bedroom for my son before the quilt was ever completed.

So, after finishing Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom, then getting through Christmas, New Year’s, and birthdays, I told myself I would not work on another book until I finished that quilt. It took about a month to quilt the layers together and sew the edge. Bear in mind, I own a sewing machine. but I have a mental block where I cannot for the life of me remember how to thread the blasted thing. So, a majority of the quilt was done by hand. Using the machine makes it a stressful experience, where as sewing it by hand is relaxing. A big bonus? You can binge Netflix while sewing, unlike when writing. Hello, Nikita & Birkhoff.

It is bigger than my couch!

It is bigger than my couch!

So, I did it. I finished it just this week. I’ve included pictures of the final product . I see why it took so long–>it is ginormous! I am afraid to wash it, because I am afraid it will fall apart. We slept under it. It may not have exactly the right dimensions, but it is totally warm.

I guess now I can add “quilter” to my resume of achievements. Not that I will be starting another one anytime soon.

Completed quilt on the bed.

Completed quilt on the bed.

troll-gurl-teaser-2

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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What I Learned This Week – 1/31/16

Adult coloring books are all the rage right now. Tiny little lines for intricate coloring. Seems more stressful than relaxing to me. I prefer my Hello Kitty coloring book any day.

This week I learned a new meaning to “adult coloring.”

Get your mind out of the gutter.

My asbestos friend the soon-to-be famous author bought a pair of white tennis shoes and decorated them with words using Sharpies.

Now, I instantly thought:

  1. What a great idea!
  2. What a waste of (a) canvas.

I love to write, but I also love to draw. When presented with a blank canvas and a rainbow of markers, my mind automatically goes to all the cool pictures and designs that I could create.

So, I totally stole her idea and decorated up a pair of shoes for myself. My son urged me to leave some white space, but I just couldn’t do that. I covered them in colorful doodles of whatever fell into my brain. Which, of course included Punky Brewster, the Wienermobile, and the logos for my website and book series.

My decorated shows-the front!

My decorated shows-the front!

My decorated shoes-the back!

My decorated shoes-the back!

I have been daydreaming about living in a little pink shack in Hawaii lately. There is a picture I love by Hawaiian artist Holly Kitaura. I did my own representation on my shoes. (Don’t worry. They are just for me. I won’t sell them or make any money off of them.) I wanted to put Stitch on (as in Lilo &), but I forgot to.

Rainbow Hale by Holly Kitaura

Rainbow Hale by Holly Kitaura

I had many more important adult responsibilities to attend to on a gloomy Sunday, but I was drawn to work on the shoes until they were done. It is very possible that the Universe was sending me a message that I needed to take a breather. I’m glad I did.

My decorated shoes-the insides

My decorated shoes-the insides!

My decorated shoes-the outsides

My decorated shoes-the outsides!

I wonder if anyone would notice if I wore them to work. And would I rather no one noticed so that I wouldn’t get into trouble, or that they did notice because they are that awesome?

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish ForANNOUNCEMENT TOMORROW!

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