Inventive Ideas

Simple Salvage:  Chicken Feeder Cookbook Rack

Cookbooks are for the birds...well, the chickens at least!  
And that's apparent in this simple salvaged project:  a cookbook rack made completely out of an old chicken feeder!  

This is about as simple of a repurposing project as you can get.  The only materials needed are the chicken feeder, polyurethane, and the cookbooks to fill it (possibly some screws, depending on where you place it and if you have little ones running around).

The beauty is in the dividers.  Maybe it was an act of fate or some freakish repurposing foresight on behalf of the manufacturer, but most old chicken feeders have a wire divider that magically fits cookbooks just perfectly!

It's like a primitive filing cabinet!

Put in a call to all of your farmer friends, or hit up some antique shops and you will be sure to find one!  We found this one in a father-in-law's barn collecting dust and getting ready to head to the scrap yard.  

As you can imagine, it was filthy.  Chicken doo and all.  So the most important step was to clean the old girl.  We just mixed up a bucket of Dawn liquid and water and took the scrubbie to her.  Once it was dry, we decided to apply a coat (or two) of satin finish polyurethane.  As with most old feeders that you will find, this one had quite a few areas where rust had developed over time.  The polyurethane will not only protect the cookbooks from the rust, but it will also stall the development of any additional rust!

Now for installation.  We propped ours up on top of an old bench that was about the same width as the feeder itself.  Since wiggle room is scant (not to mention the wee ones running about) we felt it was a good idea to bolt it down to the bench.  

We used simple L-brackets to bolt it down, but the key to blending them in is a little soak in a magic potion we call Muriatic Acid.  Be careful when you this powerful stuff; get out the goggles, the mask, etc. because it can be dangerous.  But this corrosive mineral acid will instantly make your new metal look old and you will find that it can be an invaluable tool for all of you that love this old stuff.

And it's that simple.  
Kind of ironic, we are now getting our meal inspirations from an old metal bin that used to feed the chickens.  

Cute & Clever: CAKE STANDS!

At Designed Sealed and Delivered, we love great homemade gifts.  And what could be a more inventive homemade gift than some freshly baked buttermilk cupcakes topped with maple icing and candied bacon?  
We'll tell you what:  Those fancy little cupcakes presented to the recipient on an adorable HOMEMADE CAKE STAND!
 This little project has everything going for it.  It's adorable, inexpensive, simple, and completely inventive.  Here’s what you need to do:

Find an attractive plate. 
The fun part!  Pop in at garage sales, estate sales, or pay a visit to Goodwill (or even Grandma’s china cabinet!)  There are beautiful old plates EVERYWHERE, but they sit around collecting dust because most of us can’t see a use for a lone plate that has lost its set years ago.  Now we can scoop them up and put them to good use!  And use all different sizes, depending on what kinds (and amounts) of baked goods you are presenting.  Even a shallow dish can be fashioned into a spanking candy dish.

Find a base.
Okay, another fun part!  While you’re hitting the sales look for items like candlesticks, pretty glasses, or a small vase to use as a base for your stand.  And while we want these pieces to be beautiful, the most important part is to make sure they are flat on top.  Simply place the plate on top of your potential base to see if it appears level before gluing. 

First, apply an adhesive to the top of your base.  Our tried and tested choice is Household Goop, and you want to let this cure for 5 to 10 minutes before actual assembly. 
Then make a mark in the middle of the bottom of the plate to assure that it is nice and centered.
After the curing time is up, place the plate on the base as close to the mark as you can (there will be a little bit of wiggle room if you don’t get it just right upon placement!). 
Let the adhesive cure for 24 hours before use.
And to think, after slaving away on those cupcakes all afternoon, a simple cakestand is going to swoop in and steal the show!

Note:  The cupcakes in the first photo were baked from scratch at Sweet Creations by Anesha in Saginaw (Delicious, and yes, addictive!)

Weather your Wood

The world fits into exactly two categories:
Those who like to make old things look new
Those who like to make new things look old

Call us crazy, but more often than not, we fit into the second category.  There is just something about the warmth and story behind something old that makes it so attractive.  And believe it or not, more and more people are beginning to appreciate the beautiful patina that vintage and antique objects hold.  One of our favorites is old barnwood.  Not only has this workhorse of the wood world withstood tens or hundreds of years out in the elements, but it has done it in style.  The silvery grey finish that it has walked away with is unmatched, as is its ability to be paired with any other wood finish and still look fabulous.  We are living in an age where layering textures is all the rage, and this little baby will get the job done.

Only problem:  Not all of us have an old barn in our backyard waiting to be disassembled.  So that leaves some of us with the only option of making new wood look old.  Easier said than done, since wood stain companies have decided to not carry a transparent grey stain (why, we will never know).  So after much research and testing, we have found a method of turning brand new wood into a beautifully weathered silvery-grey with SIMPLE HOUSEHOLD ITEMS!

Here is what you will need:
Tea bag
1/2 c. boiling water
Small chunk of steel wool
1/2 c. white vinegar
Paint brush

First, place your tea bag in the boiling water and let it steep for a couple minutes.  Then "paint" the tea onto your board and let it dry.  

Separate the steel wool into smaller shreds and place it in a glass jar with the vinegar.  Cover and let it stand overnight.

In the morning, strain the steel wool out of the vinegar and "paint" the vinegar onto the wood.  Wait about a half an hour and you will have a board that looks strikingly similar to barnwood!

You know, if you're one of the crazies that's into that sort of thing ;-)

Faux Firelight

Do you have a non-functioning or faux fireplace?  Sure, it's great to have that mantle to display your favorite artwork or knick-knacks; and it IS a really great focal point for the room...but what about the empty hearth?  You could spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a gas insert OR you could create  faux firelight by yourself for little cost and even less effort!

Creating these warm little bursts of firelight are Flicker Flame light strands!  Each light sends off an orange flicker that creates the illusion of a real fire warming up the room.  Assembling this quick project is so simple!

First you will need to purchase a grate for your fireplace (this is the metal contraption that holds your logs in place).  These can be purchased for a few dollars at estate sales, garage sales, or second-hand stores.  Don't have time to search?  You can pick up a brand new one for as little as $30 for a simple model.

Now for the lights!  We found ours at Lowe's priced out at $8.99 for a strand of 10, and we purchased two strands for this size fireplace.  We did purchase them around Christmastime, so availability could be sketchy at this time of the year.  But as with most things nowadays, they can easily be found on the Internet for purchase.

Onto foraging fun:  the gathering of the logs!  We chose to use birch for our fire simply because we love the texture and color, but any kind of wood would suit this project just dandy.  For a more realistic effect we split the wood, but this is a step that could easily be skipped if you don't have a lumberjack at your fingertips.

And now to assemble.  In order to conceal your cords as much as possible, weave the lights through log by log as you arrange them.  This will take a little patience, but you don't want ugly cords getting in the way of enjoying your fiery display.  

As you can see in this picture, the visible cordage is minimal.  Take your time, start over if you have to, but get those cords out of sight!  For a creative conceal of the extension cord, we added a fireside basket filled with extra wood (realistic AND functional!)

And to give you an idea of the warm glow it throws off at night:

So pour yourself a cup of decaf, grab a blanket, and cozy up to your fancy new fireplace.

Style a Lampshade!
Topping your beautiful lamp with a boring shade can be akin to wearing a baseball cap to a formal dinner.  So let's dress that shade up!  Here are a couple examples of how we've dressed up tired shades to create a little topper for our lamps that have a personality all their own!

This little beauty was created from a sweater (See our post "Felt Up!" for felting tips).  We shrunk this adorably cozy-looking cable knit grey sweater from Goodwill to use as our starting point.  It freakishly shrunk down to the perfect size and we were able to pull it over the top of the lamp just as if we were dressing a child!  Since it is felted and won't fray, we were able to cut off all of the extra material from the top and bottom and glue it into place with a glue gun.
To finish it off we glued on a coordinating rick rack and dressed it up with a pretty little lace flower.  The flower was created by hand-stitching lace around a large button (tutorial for making fabric flowers to come!)

This pretty little rustic lady was creating using one of the lampshade forms that you can find at your local craft store (JoAnn's has the best selection!)  While they can seem pricey (around $15), they are quite convenient if you are using a delicate fabric like the linen used here.  There is a sticky layer on the outside that adheres fabric beautifully, and the protective paper that is it sold in works perfectly as a pattern when cutting your fabric to fit!  Once the fabric is applied, simply hot glue the edges around the top and the base for a clean exterior. 
As for the embellishments, we hot glued a couple yards of lace around the bottom and topped it with inexpensive upholstery netting (only .75 cents a yard!).  To hide the seam of the netting we created a casual rosette out of torn muslin (tutorial to come!)

The possibilities for these lampshades are endless!  We would love to hear about any lampshades that you have created!