Friday, October 31, 2008

Crafts, Tutorials...
Today I'm sharing all kinds of free stuff to print out on the web that I've found.

Starting with stuff for the kids....

Disney is offering a limited edition printable version of Escape From Haunted Mansion as a game on their web site. You can download all the parts, pieces and instructions this week only (October 25 - 31) and fold, glue, and assemble the set to play on your own.

Ray Keim has spent a lot of time to create models of all of the Disney Haunted Mansions world-wide. They're amazingly detailed...and they're free to download!

(Special bonus: the site also has downloadable tombstones!)

Another haunted house can be found at 3D Paper Model Crafts . There are also lots of links of free downloads of 3D Model toys for children to download, print, fold, and play with. Some of these are pretty complex.

Free sudoku puzzle to print out!

Now for the grown-ups.

Two dozen grocery lists and shopping lists that you can download and print. I downloaded te "Grocery List with extra space" in a Word format. Because it's in word format, you can replace items that you rarely buy (like artichokes) with items that you commonly buy. Oh, and I was able to eliminate the entire BABY section of the grocery list. (Hee hee. Been there, done that.)

Free online business card maker. Great for those who are starting a business - everyone should have business cards!

Pretty gift boxes and chinese take-out boxes to print and fold

More than 200 free gift tag designs that you can download, customize, and print. (Just do a google search for free printable gift tags to find dozens and dozens of sites.)

500 free certificate designs that you can download and print. (Customizable versions are available but they're not free.)

And if you want to adorn your desk with the cutest car on the planet, you can download a Mini Cooper to enjoy. (Almost lifesize model.) It even allows you to pick colors, stripes, and roof designs - just like in real life.

And More!!!
Continuing with the Halloween theme...
Some cute animals in costume!

Happy halloween

Scary google!
And, by the way? Did you see the google banner for today? I think it's one of their best ever!
Did you know that google has a holiday banner museum. It contains all the google logos commemorating holidays and events since the first time they did it in 1999.

Sound Dirty on Halloween

1. So…What’d you get in the sack?
2. Once you get under the sheet, start moaning and groaning!!!
3. Just hop on that broomstick and ride it!
4. Those small suckers are gone in a few licks!
5. I got the best piece from that house.
6. Quit screwing around on the porch!!!
7. Stick your hand in and guess what you’re feeling….
8. It was so filled and heavy, I had to use TWO hands!!
9. They’ll suck you dry if they get their teeth in you.
10. I bobbed and bobbed, but couldn’t get my mouth around it!
11. She’s a goblin!
12. Let me see your bag….OH! You’re having a great night!
13. Just get on your hands and knees and bob your head.
14. She’s got a couple of nice pumpkins on her porch.
15. If you just lick it, it’ll last longer.
16. Show me your JuJuBees and I’ll let you see my Zagnuts.
17. Have your mom check it before you put it in your mouth…
18. You scared me stiff!
19. He’s got Candy spread out on the living room floor!

Bat Suicide
Bat Suicide

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Thursday, October 30, 2008'll be almost time to turn around and go back home.

And that's exactly what I'm doing. One day of meetings and 1 1/2 days of travel to get back home.

Andrea of Castalian Designs was the first to guess where I am this week. She said the Gila Monster was the most critical clue and helped her narrow it down to the US Southwest.

So what about those clues I left for you on Tuesday?

First clue. The Gila Monster is found in the SW US and is native to the Gila River basin, where Phoenix is.

As I said on Tuesday, the Gila Monster even starred in its own B- movie. The stars of this ..ahem.. avant garde film are a sheriff of a small Texas town and a leader of a hot-rod gang who try to find out why teens have been disappearing. A series of tragic motor accidents occur (!) and it becomes apparent that a giant gila monster is roaming the area and depleting the town of its hot-rodding teen-agers. And guess who ends up attending the BIG record-hop party! (I saw some outtakes on youtube and they were pretty hilarious. They used a real gila monster on some scale balsa wood models - but it was SO CUTE!)

2nd clue. The mountain my daughter and I climbed is called Camelback Mountain because it resembles one (see right).

Obviously early settlers had active imaginations. Or maybe they never saw a real camel.

And there's a large rock formation on Camelback Mountain that's called the Praying Monk. Shown on the right, it's said to resemble a monk bent on one knee, praying.

(Didn't the settlers also partake of certain "mushrooms" found in this area?)

It's a lot larger than you'd think from the photo. To give you some perspective, below left is a photo of a professional climber as he scales the cliff walls of the Praying Monk. Pretty impressive.

(I think I would need to indulge in a lot of mushrooms or similar substances before I would try to scale a really tall and really vertical sheer expanse of rock like that one.)

The last clue was a play on the word "phoenix". I stated that this new city was founded on the remains of an ancient civilization. So, like the ancient phoenix, it arose from the ashes.

(OK. It was late at night and I had had a drink. It sounded like a great clue at the time.)

Stay tuned for another "Where in the World is Contrariwise" next week. I'll be heading for a more "distant" location.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm on a "4 business trips in 5 weeks" roll, and I'm off traveling again. This time it's a fairly short trip: about one and 1/2 days of travel and just a single day of meetings! (hint hint)

When I last played "Where in the World is Contrariwise" , I was really surprised at how quickly someone guessed that I was in Vienna! And I even thought the photos I used were pretty obscure - I know I would never have guessed the location!

I think this week's location might be a bit easy to guess, so I'm going to try to make it as hard as I can and not use the most obvious clues or photos.

First clue. The animal on the right lives here. However, even if you're a native of the area, it's pretty doubtful that you might see one. They're very reclusive and only come out at night - and rarely at that. One really interesting fact about these animals is that they only eat about 5 or 6 times a year.

A really cool creature, this animal even starred in its own B horror movie.

2nd clue. There are lots of mountains around here. But If I showed you a picture of a local mountain, you might be able to name it from its profile - it's quite well known. (So I'm not going to post it!)

I've even climbed this particular mountain with my daughter earlier this year!

On the left is what we saw as we just started our climb. (The large rock in the center is also a landmark and has a very picturesque name.)

It took us over 3 hours to climb the trail and get back down. I'm not as fast as my daughter. Here she is waiting (somewhat) patiently for me.

3rd clue: This is a relatively new city, being founded in the latter part of the 19th century and was actually founded on ruins of much more ancient settlements.

OK. Time to guess where I am!

Put your guesses in the Comments. If no one guesses right, I'm going to add some more clues later today.

Tomorrow, I promise to you know where I am and to explain the clues in this post.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Get your politically incorrect parenting tips RIGHT HERE!bad mommy[1].LHJ.7.41 (This one was forwarded on to me by a friend. Don't know the origin.)
UPDATE: I think that this may be the original source of the ad. (Great site, by the way, with some awesome links.)

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Crafts, Tutorials...
Blade Runner

I found this great idea from Ready Made.

Instead of buying an expensive knife holder, you can make a really cool one from recycled or renewable source materials. Easy, useful, and rather elegant, too!

1. Drink all the liquid out of a 2 liter bottle or pull one out of your trash.
2. Clean and dry said bottle.
3. Remove the bottle’s label.
4. Using a utility knife, cut off the top of the bottle of so that it now measures 10 1/2” tall.
5. Fill the bottle’s bottom with about two cups of salt, sugar, or sand.
6. Start packing the bamboo skewers (sharp ends down) until the bottle is full and tight.
7. Gently stab your finest chef’s knives into the bamboo.

Or if you'd prefer, you can buy a similar model from Martin Robitsch, of Austria for only $125!

Do it yourself Wedding (and other) invitations.

When someone says that you should make your own invitations, my mind runs immediately to sloppy, very homemade-looking projects that advertise how small your budget is. But, thanks to different websites, you can create invitations worthy of a million-dollar wedding. Choices include dramatic petal fold envelopes, fancy papers, pretty ribbons to tie them with - all are included in a do-it-yourself (DIY) package, complete with instructions.

Just do a quick google search for "DIY Wedding invitations" and you 'll find dozens of sites. Usually, they provide you with a microsoft word template, the paper, and the decorations. You print the invitations, decorate, and assemble them.

They're definitely cheaper than professional printers, but some still seem pretty pricy to me.

<---Look, this invitation is even Green! I love that it has seeds embedded in it.

My middle daughter just turned 18, so maybe I should start thinking about this sometime in the near future. However, knowing her, she would rather DIE than have DIY wedding invites.

Well , at least here's one invitation we better not need for her. -------->

Even less expensive invitations!

Wedding fanatic has a video that shows you how to make really inexpensive invitations and provides a free template too! It can easily be modified to be used for other occasions. (You should check out her blog. It's not just full of amazing tips but it's also just a feast for the eyes.

Or, if you're not into making these kinds of papercrafts, you could always check Etsy. There are a lot of talented people who make unbelievably creative cards and invitations.

...and more!!!

Continuing with the wedding theme:
Do you think last night's Stag Party might be to blame? - Watch more free videos

And now from the Contrariwise homefront:
A kitchen peeler, potatoes, and a 13 year old girl. What do you get?

Can you tell that she's definitely improving!

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Part 1 of this story can be found here.

As you read in my last post, I wanted to learn to make domed discs and incorporate them in my jewelry designs.

Starting with copper, which is obviously WAY LESS expensive than sterling, I learned by trial and error to make discs. The sheets of copper fit easily in the slit on the side of the disc cutter. (See right.) I found that one sharp blow with a heavy hammer was best - it resulted in the discs having sharp distinct edges. Only minor filing was required to make the edges smooth and ready for the next step, doming the discs to create softly concaved shapes.

To make concave discs, I started with the largest depression in the dapping block and used the largest punch. ( If I didn't start with the largest depression, I ended up with folds in the disc. An interesting look, but not one that I wanted. Trial and error - AGAIN!)

Then I progressively moved to smaller depressions until I got the shape I wanted.

After getting comfortable with the copper, I made a few discs in silver and domed them with the dapping block.

In the photo on the right, you can see three different discs.

On the upper right is a small non textured disc. The lower 2 discs have been texturized. They've been hammered with punches to get a texture that I liked. The one in the middle has also been oxidized and polished to bring out highlights.

I liked the earthy feel of the oxidized and textured discs. I could easily make them into jewelry, but I felt that they needed something else. I went through my boxes and boxes of beads and findings. I tried combining all kinds of beads with the sterling discs but finally settled on some coin pearls which I felt could stand up to the heft and the texture of the silver, and contrast it nicely.

On the left you see the final result. Sterling silver domed discs and coin pearls. I call them my Moonlit earrings.

(Modesty aside, isn't the photo great! Seriously, this is one of my favorites. Other than cropping it, nothing else has been done to enhance this photo.)

I really like the textures of the sterling against the iridescence of the pearls. I even made a pair of these earrings for myself- but I sold them off my ears from someone at work - and made a custom matching pendant.

Unfortunately, this is all I've been able to accomplish with my new tools recently. My full time job has been keeping me so busy that this jewlery sideline of mine - the artistic part of me at this point in my life- has languished. New designs have been really sparse. It's all I've been able to do to keep up with my Etsy Shop.

I've got lots of ideas drafted on paper. I only hope I can get them visualized.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I've been obsessed with the idea of adding small silver or copper discs in my jewelry designs. The discs look like they might be fun to make and I really really wanted to try my hand at them.

Eventually, my OCD kicked in; I NEEDED to make them. I COULDN'T GO ON without trying to make them.

I searched through google to learn about how to make flat and concave discs. It didn't seem so hard. Of course I would need to buy some new tools: a dapping block, punches, and a disc cutter. (New toys! Yeah!)

I checked around and found that not only are these items pretty pricey, but shipping is really expensive because, being made from solid metal, they're very heavy. I was itching to try this technique but wasn't sure that I'd use it a lot. So I really didn't want to invest a lot of money.

The absolute cheapest metal dapping block, at $35, was at my local Harbor Freight store. Even though I wouldn't need to pay shipping and handling charges, I still balked. So I visited it often at the store, contemplating buying it.

Then one Saturday while I was loitering at the HF store - walking through the aisles and lusting after the tools - I saw the dapping block on sale for $22.99!

It was D-E-S-T-I-N-Y!

It went home with me. I'll admit, it's not the best quality. I got what I paid for. There are minor scratches in the hollows on the block, and a couple of punches have slightly flattened tips.

BUT DOESN'T IT LOOK COOL ON MY SHELF?! (Can you tell that I'm pretty happy.)

Next step: find a (cheap) disc cutter.

After much searching, I finally went to eBay and found this little baby-->

Whoo hoo!

Now what do I do? Neither the dapping block or the disc cutter came with instructions. The dapping block was pretty intuitive, but the disc cutter wasn't.

Look at the ends of the punches. One is end is flat and the other is slightly rounded. Which end is for what?

I assumed I slide a sheet of metal in the little slot of the side, insert the punch, and then hammer away... or do I? Should the cutter lie on a surface or be supported? I wasn't sure, even with all the instructions I found on the internet!

Yes, I know that sounds stupid, but I didn't want to ruin my new toy with my first blow. Frustrated, I decided to leave this for another day.

Then, a few weeks later, I met a very friendly artist at a street fair in San Francisco It was obvious that he knew what he was doing. I finally got the courage and told him that I made jewelry too. He was very interested and we chatted. I asked him about disc cutters and he gave me some very useful advice. He also suggested start with copper sheets and use a heavy brass hammer instead my regular steel ballpeen.

OK. Need to buy more stuff: brass hammer, sheets of copper, and one (very expensive) sheet of sterling silver.

Now here I was, two months later and a couple of hundred dollars poorer. I had everything I needed and was ready.

You know what's next? Yup, you're right:

To be continued.....
(I promise to show you what I made with my new tools.)
Contrariwise Jewelry is now a proud member

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Crafts, Tutorials...
There was an amazing response from last week's recycling/green tutorial on repurposing trash bags into useful items like totebags or throw rugs. So I thought I would focus on a couple more GREEN tutorials this week.

Autumn Bouquet made from Maple Leaves

I think it's close to the peak for the fall foliage season, so this craft is very timely. Doesn't this look amazing.

I've summarized the instructions below. Yes, there's a lot of steps, but they're really easy to follow and you won't even need the instructions after your 1st couple of roses. (Just remember to use leaves that are not too dry.)




Don't you think single or small groups of roses would look great incorporated into a fall wreath.

Fairy Lights
These lights are made from recycled cardboard cups. They can be enhanced with feathers, paper, cardboard cones or...egg carton cups! You can hang your fairy lights in a dark area, over a mirror or above a bed for a cozy, warm effect.

They're made from egg cartons - which are made from recycled paper already! For the entire tutorial, visit Esprit Cabane.

....And more

How Many of Me?
I think this is absolutely fascinating. To find out how many people have your name, click here.

(I found out that there are only 94 people in the US with the same exact name as mine.)

Some suggestions based upon what other people are searching for:

Your name: The first suggestion is right in the site name. How many people have your name?
Relatives: Search through your family tree. Search the names of your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or anyone else related to you.
Nicknames: Does your name not have many (or any) results? If you're using a shortened form of your name (like Will, or Bill), you may get fewer results than you expect. Try using your full name (such as William).
Baby Names: Is little Junior on the way and you want to make sure he (or she) isn't stuck with the same name as 5 other kids when he gets to preschool? Try the names out here, see how many results you get.

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When wedding vows go horribly wrong
I don't need to say anything. Just watch the video.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And we have a WINNAH!

Jen guessed that I was in Austria. Wow! good effort! But a blogger named Just Janes came even closer by guessing that I was in Vienna. (Links to her blog and etsy shop are here.)

The photos in my last post were from the Summer Palace in Vienna, called Schönbrunn Palace, which is one of Vienna's top attractions.

[ WARNING: the following paragraph contains a history lesson. ]
The palace started out as a hunting retreat for Emperor Maximilian II in the late 1500's. It was then built up in the 18th century to resemble Versailles…though it didn’t quite pan out that way. The original plans proved too expensive for the imperial budget, and the palace was significantly cut back in size—leaving Emperor Leopold I to make do with a modest 1,441 rooms as his summer residence (ouch!). In the days of Empress Maria Theresa (who had 16 children, by the way, before her husband died prematurely), the palace was elaborately remodeled and finally repainted in a pale mustard color—a shade that became all the rage in aristocratic circles and is still known as “Schönbrunn yellow.” (Website: Schonbrunn Castle)
[/ History lesson over. ]

If no one had gotten the answer to "Where in the World is Contrariwise", here are some of the other photos that I was going to post. The Vienna Opera House. Which, in person, is much bigger and much more ornate that I had ever imagined it. (Can you see the open arches on the first level? Well, the ceilings are decorated with ornate paintings.)

I didn't have time to go inside, though. You either have to have a ticket to the opera, or go on a tour.

And St Stephens, the Vienna Catherdral which they started building in the 1300's. I only saw this in passing. If I have time, I'm going to try to get inside.

I have business meetings for the next two full days. But I'll have some free time on Friday afternoon.

Hey, who knows, maybe I'll even find some bead shops.

Hmmmm.....I seem to recall something about Austria being know for crystals.

[Note to JustJaynes: no, you CAN NOT have my job.]

Stay tuned, there will be another episode of "Where in the World is Contrariwise" next week.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Well, I'm traveling for business again. This is a rough month for both me and my family. I have 4 scheduled business trips!

Rather than telling you where I am, I thought I'd play a little game. I'll post a few pictures while I'm traveling, and let's see if you can guess where in the world I am?

I just arrived at my hotel this morning and have a meeting this evening. I'm pretty tired and would love a nap but if I did that, I'd be awake all night. Which would be a really bad idea. So, as I usually do on the first day, I take some time for some sightseeing.

I took the subway and then had a bit of a walk to a famous tourist site. On the right you can see a typical building I saw along my way. The weather's a bit crisp and there's a slight fog that I hope will burn off before too long.

The photo below is where I went sightseeing. Pretty impressive, isn't it. (At this point, if you're guessing that I'm not in Indianapolis, you'd be right!)

I toured inside and then went to see the beautiful grounds around the building.
DSC01792 b

And this beautiful fountain and buildings can be seen from the back of the building:
DSC01805 b

While I was walking around the grounds, I came across an older couple that were feeding the birds and squirrels. The animals were so tame that the squirrels would come right up to the lady and take peanuts from her hand that she held out to them. And birds would actually land on her hand and peck bread crumbs held in her palm!

The squirrels are quite a bit different looking that the standard variety around my house. They're almost black and the ears have little tufts of hair growing out of them.

Do you know what city and country I'm in?

Post your guesses in the comments and I'll check back. If no one guesses, I'll add some more photos and hints!

Every piece of jewelry I make has a story. This one is a bit convoluted - but isn't that usually the way inspiration works?

About a year ago, I was making headpins and decided to put little swirls on the ends, to hold the beads in place. The swirls kept getting more and more complex until they were bigger than the beads! But they were so cool.

So I searched through my bead box to find a bead that would complement the swirl. I found some coin pearls and tried one on the swirl.

Eh, not bad. Should I create another and make earrings? No. I decided I wouldn't and put the combo away in my "projects in progress" box.

Just last week I was looking for something and found my neglected pearl/swirl. All of a sudden - and I mean the idea came to me in a flash! - I knew that it would make a great pendant.

It was already made and all I had to do was add it onto a chain. So here's my Sweet Pearl O' Mine necklace.Simple and sweet.

And where did I get the inspiration for the name? I had the radio on, and Guns 'N Roses was playing "Sweet Child 'O Mine".

Hey, you get inspiration where you can.

Check my Etsy shop for this and other Contrariwise Jewelry designs.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Crafts, Tutorials.....

Green Living
Save the planet one day at a time - All you need is a crochet hook
OK, you know the pile of plastic grocery and shopping bags that we all accumulate? (Ever wonder if they actually start breeding after a while? I do.) Here is just the cleverist project for making tote bags from recycled plastic bags:
(I have got to try this. It is just too stinkin' cute not to at least give it a try. )

Don't have enough plastic bags? Most grocery and department stores have collection bins for used grocery bags. Don't be shy. This is a great way to increase your color stock of plastic bags.

Also, these sites have got tons of ideas of what else you can do with plastic bags:
Crochet a beach bag
Plastic bag handbag
Throw rug instructions
Another plastic bag rug
Plastic knit tote bag
Plastic Bag Raincoat - clever stuff!
Crochet a Recycled Clothes Pin Bag
Recycled Plastic Bag Purse
Pot Scrubber Crocheted from Plastic Bags
Dog Leash from Braided Plastic BagsMessenger bag (video)
Water bottle holder
Making plastic beads and wallets
Plastic bag sandals -

The above links are via Green Living Tips

Project Alphabet
PROJECTalphabet™ lets you make your own calendars, alphabet and counting books with digital pictures, then print them out yourself.
And it's all FREE. So make one for your kid, class, dog, town or family vacation.

Here's how it works:
Check out this page of cute examples of alphabets and counting books. One that I thought would make a special gift is a bridal ABC. A lot of thought and effort went to make it.


....And More!

Dust Bunnies

I have enough dust bunnies. Here, take this one that I found under the bed:
Photobucket via

9 Amazingly Simple Home DIY Solutions

1. If you’re choking on an ice cube, simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat. presto! the blockage will instantly remove itself.

2. Avoid cutting yourself when slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold the vegetables while you chop.

3. Avoid arguments with the females about lifting the toilet seat by using the sink.

4. For high blood pressure sufferers ~ simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure on your veins. Remember to use a timer.

5. A mouse trap placed on top of your alarm clock will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

6. If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives. then you’ll be afraid to cough.

7. You only need two tools in life - wd-40 and duct tape. if it doesn’t move and should, use the wd-40. if it shouldn’t move and does, use the duct tape.

8. Remember - everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

9. If you can’t fix it with a hammer, you’ve got an electrical problem.

Think you work hard to make your family a nutricious meal?

You got nuthin'.

Japanese women spend a good part of their mornings preparing box lunches, called obento, for their families – there is even a sense of competition among mothers to see who can produce the most cute, appetizing, and healthy lunch for their children. Here are among the most amazing obento lunches I've ever seen:

All of these come curtesy of a site called Hello Kitty Hell.

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