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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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HALLOWEEN 2017: DIY Unicorn & The Terminator

This year for Halloween I really wanted to be Harley Quinn. (I did last year, too). But, I didn’t want to spend the money on the costume and I did not want to freeze during Trick or Treating. So, I ended up being a unicorn. Which, by the way, cost about half what the Harley Quinn costume would have cost me and I still froze during Trick or Treat, although not as badly.

To make the unicorn, I relied on this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/thnF6i3IDBY
And also this website: https://www.makeit-loveit.com/make-unicorn-hoodie-30-minutes/
And the rest I made up as I went along.

First get a hoodie to decorate in the desired color. At first I considered a bright pink one from Hobby Hobby that was zipperless. But I had already fallen in love with the grey hoodie on the makeit-loveit website. Plus, zipperless hoodies tend to pull on my neck and annoy me. I figured the added weight of the mane and the horn would only make that worse. I bought my plain grey hoodie in the men’s department at Walmart. I recommend a hoodie with drawstrings so you can tighten them if you need to. I actually tied scrap strips of fleece to my drawstrings. I could tighten the drawstrings and slide up the fleece to hold it in place, holding them without having to tie a silly bow.

Then I gathered different colored scraps of fleece from my own collected and the scrap bin at JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby. I only needed a little, so they were relatively inexpensive. I found the silver material for the horn there too.

Mane sewed on, but not yet cut into strands

My horn is maybe 7 inches tall here. I wrapped it with gold ribbon. A gold horn with silver ribbon would work just as well. The way I made my ears, they didn’t stand up so well, so feel free to improve on the design.

The full horn and ears.

Once I got the horn sewed on, I realized it was just way too long. I removed it, cut off about 2 inches, and sewed it back on again. If you want to be able to wear your horn in the car, you could take off even more.

I was feeling horny! This is the too long horn.

I had cut off the leading (trailing?) edge of the fleece. I was just going to discard it, but it turned out they made for a great tail. I attached it with a large safety pin. I layered more fleece on the inside so that the pin wouldn’t rip the jacket if it got pulled on on accident.

Finished mane and tail

Here is a picture of my finished costume. Please realize that I am not that fat. Well, not quite. I had on five layers, including a raincoat as a windbreaker which was a total lifesaver that night.

My son went as the Terminator. All he needed was the right sunglasses, a $3 thrift store leather jacket, and a $1 gun from a yard sale. He wanted me to be Sarah Conner. But that would just be the same costume as when I was Jennifer to his Marty McFly–my old 80s clothes. And no one would know who I was. For more on the Marty McFly costume, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2015/10/27/crafting-a-cardboard-delorean/

Finished costumes

Have fun making your own unicorn costume!

For more on how The Terminator is actually a love story, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2014/07/16/the-movie-terminator-is-actually-a-love-story/

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

Paint It Like It’s 1988: DIY Child’s Coat Rack

When we moved into our 100 year old house in 2004, there were already shelves and coat racks and key racks screwed into the walls. I eliminated the shelves that were in what we referred to as “the dog room” when it became “the nursery”. That is before it was the “man room.” They were white and wire and, in my opinion, ugly. I ripped out the one that was in what is now my son’s bedroom as well.

The coat rack and key rack by the back door I left untouched. We actually use the front door more than the back, so we always find ourselves walking to the back door to get our coat, then walking back to the front to leave. The keys that hang on the rack back there are ones we almost never use. The ones we need for cars and houses and our mothers’ houses we carry with us.

When we redid a bedroom upstairs for my son last year, we made him a cool train room [You can see it here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2015/08/05/ms-train-station-bedroom-my-new-upstairs/], complete with a coat rack that looks like a train sign. (We made a white one, he wanted the round yellow one. Le sigh.) It is great for his robe and baseball hats and such, but if we are leaving and I send him upstairs for a coat, he will get sidetracked and never make it back down again. The coat rack by the back door, while useful, was not very functional for a shorty like my almost six year old.

So, I came up with the idea that I needed to make him his own coat rack that he could reach downstairs. I was so fed up last spring, that I wandered into the local Habitat for Humanity Restore. (If you don’t know about these places and their treasure-trove of recycled goodies, look into it.) Twenty minutes later I walked out with an old oak board and enough hardware to handle coats for an army of children. I don’t remember the exact amount, but it seems like it was around $5 for my haul that day. I always intended to splatter-paint it with the leftover paint from my upstairs revitalization project, but never got to it all summer. With autumn’s cold mornings, it became necessary once again.

The completed board. The paint is still wet here.

The completed board. The paint is still wet here.

So, one day I designated as “paint day”, my son and I went out in the front yard in our junky clothes and painted his proton pack for Halloween, as well as the board for this project.

My son did all the painting himself. He did an excellent job, even if it is slightly more paint than I myself would have used. He had fun. And it got done.

Manly husband with power tools doing installation. Ahr, ahr, ahr. Now, where did we leave those studs???

Manly husband with power tools doing installation. Ahr, ahr, ahr. Now, where did we leave those studs???

While I have my own drill and bits and hoped to do the whole project myself, I am a giant loser wuss woman and had to have my husband come in and save me to screw on the hardware and attach it to the wall. But I think it came out pretty sweet!

Finished product. Reminds me of a New Kids on the Block shirt that I used to own.

Finished product. Reminds me of a New Kids on the Block shirt that I used to own.

Now, if only my son would quit wearing his coats to school on cool mornings and then LEAVING THEM IN HIS LOCKER instead of bringing them home. His coat rack looks a little empty at the moment.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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Who You Gonna Call?

My son has gone through many ideas in the last year of what he would be for Halloween 2016: Scooby-Doo, Gizmo, etc. Some would require more work than others on my part. And my heart is still kind of in love with his Marty McFly from last year, his obsession so perfectly timed with Back to the Future Day. You also can’t discount the reusability of that costume, which totally still fits him this year.

But about two months ago, he settled on being a Ghostbuster. We had received a Ghostbuster costume many months ago, just for playtime. So, that was already taken care of. But, well, my demanding son demanded a proton pack.

Oy.

So, I present to you, a step-by-step on how I made my son a proton pack.

I took the back panel and straps off of a holey old backpack and glued them to a piece of cardboard. I added on a bunch of crap from the recycling bin and glued or taped it on as best as I could.

Recycled crap. The partial backpack and straps and cardboard are under this stuff.

Recycled crap. The partial backpack and straps and cardboard are under this stuff.

NOTE: I tried to avoid using cardboard as much as possible, since it tends to precipitate around here on treat-seeking holidays.

I bought some black spray paint and sprayed it all because it seemed way faster than hand painting it all. And it was.

Melted styrofoam, which I had to substitute out at the last minute.

Melted styrofoam, which I had to substitute out at the last minute.

NOTE: Apparently some types of Styrofoam melt when they come in contact with spray paint. Before using a large quantity of it for this project, you should probably test it first and see if you will have this issue. I had to make a minor adjustment for my son’s costume.

Secured with hot glue and Gorilla Tape, prior to painting.

Secured with hot glue and Gorilla Tape, prior to painting.

 

Old clothes and the great outdoor made for good spray painting conditions.

Old clothes and the great outdoors made for good spray painting conditions.

I glued on some color elements I purchased from Dollar Tree, such as a sound tube and jump rope.

The painted pack with added color elements.

The painted pack with added color elements.

I got glow sticks from Dollar Tree as well. I taped them onto the gun to make it glow. I also make it so that I could slip them into the egg cartons and it would glow. It looks cool, was easy, and provides better visibility to a shorty on Halloween.

The finished product, bustin' ghosts! (Glow sticks not yet attached.)

The finished product, bustin’ ghosts! (Glow sticks not yet attached.)

Can you tell that I am just not quite as passionate about this project as I was last year about making a DeLorean time machine out of cardboard and duct tape? While not movie quality, the proton pack was relatively easy (except for my glue gun is a piece of shit), and size and weight appropriate for my almost six year old boy.

The finished proton pack in action.

The finished proton pack in action.

AND this is an AWARD WINNING costume!!! He WON Funniest Costume at the YMCA for his age group.

Me, well, I of course wanted to be Harley Quinn this Halloween. Ponytails with multi-colored hair? It is like she was the comic book character created just for me. But in practicality, ponytails do not a Harley Quinn costume make. And while it will not deter many others, I neither have the body nor the inclination to run around half-naked on a cold Halloween night in Michigan (anymore).

So, I went with my most recent obsession: WKRP. I present to you, Miss Bailey Quarters. For some fan fiction featuring Bailey and Johnny, please click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2016/10/12/wkrp-baby-if-you-ever-wondered-what-would-happen-if-johnny-bailey-got-together-part-1/

I just HAD to have the Black Death shirt.

I just HAD to have the Black Death shirt.

Now, I realize my glasses aren’t big enough, but I need to wear my regular glasses so that I can, you know, cross the street and see and stuff. This is from the episode Rumors. I ordered the Johnny Fever shirt from CafePress.com. I was really happy with it. I ordered a medium and it was a little big, but I kind of wanted it to be so that I could procure the illusion that I rolled out of bed in the morning and borrowed it from Johnny himself. You know, the same story Bailey gives the staff at WKRP.

My WKRP jacket I made. Attached with safety pins for easy removal.

My WKRP jacket I made. Attached with safety pins for easy removal.

And…

My favorite WKRP in Cincinnati meme. Because I made it.

My favorite WKRP in Cincinnati meme. Because I made it.

Just because I can.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

The Worry Box

So, I found this app which has meditations that you can download. I have only tried two, one listen each, because I give up easily.

The second one I listened to was called “The Worry Box” by Monica A. Frank. It was all about visualizing a box to put your worries in. Your box could look like whatever you wanted. It should have a lock to keep the worries from escaping. She sl-ow-ly talked about how you would layer things in your box. She talked about different kinds of worries and what ones should go on the bottom and what ones should go on the top. I can’t remember the terminology, but it seemed like one of them were like “unreasonable worries” which were supposed to differ from worries you could action.

Um, if I knew the difference, I wouldn’t be downloading mental health apps, lady.

So, bear in mind, I was listening to this audio as I picked up dog poop in my back yard (luckily, from my own dog). And my mind was like, “Squirrel!

“I should go to Hobby Lobby (I recognize that they aren’t always the most politically correct store, but they have the best craft supplies in town). I could pick out a wooden box. I could paint it up fancy. I could find a tiny little lock to put on it. I could put the key on my keychain as a reminder that the worries are locked way and I am safe from them during the day. I should go now—

“But it is Sunday, and they are closed 😦 ”

After that I zoned out and quit listening to the audio and kept envisioning the awesome box I would make. I liked the idea so much that I started writing down my worries on little slips of paper and trapping them in a box that night. I just had to use a cigar box for a substitute until I could get something better.

I had to work the first part of Monday, and I had promised my mother that I would take her shopping after that. So, I made it to Hobby Lobby and got my things picked out and was waiting in line at closing time.

It almost looks like an old radio in this picture.

It almost looks like an old radio in this picture.

The box I liked did not have a way to put a lock on it and they didn’t sell them there anyway. But the closure fits pretty snugly, so I think those evil suckers will have a problem if they try to pop out of there. My son, the soon-to-be kindergartner, was of course asking me questions. He was so intrigued by the idea (as much as a five year old can be) that he picked out his own box to decorate. He picked out some scrapbooking letters and told me he wanted to use them to put the words “not today” on his box. I thought it was an excellent idea! Of course, he changed his mind by the time he got home, but I liked the idea so much that I used it for myself. I thought it was a very deep observation for a child. Or maybe it is just because it was my child.

Cares, cares away. Never to return.

Cares, cares away. Never to return.

I wanted to paint the box so that just by looking at it, you would not be able to tell that it was made of wood. I mostly succeeded, except I need  to buy some new paint before I can do the bottom. (I wondered why my craft paint was clumpy—some dates back to 1999!) I painted the inside black, to keep those worries calm and quiet. The top & front I painted black and brown, with some gold & silver accents. I made up my own saying for the lid, then translated it into Latin using the Google translator, because the words in Latin just seemed like they would hold more power, sort of reminding me of spells like in the 90s movie The Craft. And if you are a Latin scholar and it doesn’t make sense, don’t write to me. I didn’t use Google for a permanent tattoo, only for a wooden box I keep in my bedroom closet that no one else but me will see. The sides I painted with a mix of brown with red, blue, and purple, respectively, because I could not resist adding some color.

My son's box. He doesn't put his worries in it. He just wanted to paint it.

My son’s box. He doesn’t put his worries in it. He just wanted to paint it.

I am hoping the worry box and the love bubble will be a winning combination. If nothing else, I got to enjoy arts & crafts with my son. Soon he will be all crabby from being at school all day and not interested.

Oh, I almost forgot to show you these cool earrings I made. Sorry, I don’t have a picture where they are not attached to my head.

So retro!

So retro!

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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