Thanksgiving | RoboTurkey 3000

I finished one more turkey assemblage just in time for Thanksgiving.

turkey assemblage
When I first got the idea for this guy, I thought assembling the pieces would be quick and easy because most of the parts were going to attach to the hole in the center of the coffee basket that would become the turkey’s body.

turkey made from metal parts
Unfortunately, it turned out to be a lot more difficult than I had originally envisioned. Holes had to be drilled out because they weren’t quite large enough, pieces had to be forced into place because they didn’t want to cooperate and, for a long time, the turkey just refused to stand upright.

turkey made from metal parts
I got him done, thanks to much help from my husband, who has mad turkey robot engineering skills and, when it comes to helping his wife with mechanical projects and power tools, the patience of a saint.

robot turkey parts
Here’s what I started with: a coffee filter basket, a bunch of old measuring spoons and two gold furniture feet.

making a turkey assemblage

Step 1 was to slide a bolt through the hole in the tablespoon that would become the turkey’s head …

making a turkey assemblage

… and then slide the bolt into the hole in the coffee basket.

making a turkey assemblage

So far, so good.

making a turkey assemblage
Next, I laid out the rest of the measuring spoons in a fan shape, with the largest ones in the middle and the smallest ones on the ends …

tail feathers for turkey assemblage
… and slid them onto the same bolt the head was attached to. I secured them in place with a nut.

measuring spoon tail feathers
He was already starting to look like a turkey.

adding feet to a metal turkey assemblage
At that point, I pulled the measuring spoon tail feathers off so I could drill holes into the bottom of the coffee basket for the turkey’s legs.

making a turkey assemblage

Then I put everything back together again.

measuring spoon turkey tail feathers

In order to keep the turkey upright, I had to add a couple of additional tail feather spoons that rested on the ground like a kick stand (the husband’s idea).

beads and baubles for turkey's face
Finally, I dug out a few beads and baubles to use as the turkey’s facial features …

turkey assemblage
… but when I had them glued on, I was underwhelmed. He felt a little blah. I wanted him to have more personality.

turkey asemblage
So I dug back into my stash of beads and baubles and tried again.

turkey assemblage
I was much happier with his new face.

metal turkey assemblageBehold: RoboTurkey 3000.

turkey assemblage
He joins Robot Turkey 2.0, who I made earlier in the week …

turkey assemblage

… and the original Robot Turkey that I made last year.

I still have lots of leftover turkey parts and lots of ideas, so I will probably continue to add to the flock next year, but I’m calling it done for now.

Thanksgiving | Robot Turkey 2.0

With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I’d make a turkey.

metal turkey
Technically, he’s a “turkey assemblage,” but I am calling him “Robot Turkey 2.0,” because he follows in the footsteps of last year’s original Robot Turkey (pictured below).

turkey assemblage
Off and on over the last 12 months, I’ve been hunting for turkey parts at garage sales and thrift stores, which was a little difficult because I didn’t really know what I wanted the new guy to look like. All I knew was that I wanted him to be different than the original.

metal Jell-O mold
As usual, I overcollected. I now have two boxfuls of metal junk (aka turkey parts) in my basement (so odds are there will be several more robot turkey iterations to come). As I sifted through the pieces last weekend, I decided I’d start RT 2.0 with an old Jell-O mold.

making a turkey assemblage
 I thought the mold resembled a turkey breast, so that would be the body. Then I drilled a couple of holes into the bottom of the mold …

making a junk turkey
… so I could attach his legs, which were made out of silver cabinet pulls.

making a turkey assemblage
Here’s how they’re attached inside.

making a turkey assemblage
I cut a dowel the same height as the Jell-O mold/body and glued it in place with E6000. My plan was to glue a mini tart pan that looked a lot like turkey feathers to the dowel, so the feathers would be sticking up behind the body.

metal turkey assemblage
The tart pan feathers looked great. Unfortunately, I realized at this point that there were some center of gravity issues — i.e., the turkey kept tipping forward when I tried to set him on his feet. I thought maybe if I put some weight in the back of the Jell-O mold, it might help balance him out …

making a junk turkey

… so I pried the tart pan off the dowel and filled the Jell-O mold with some mortar (because in addition to making a robot turkey last weekend, I also happened to be tiling a wall in my bathroom).

junk turkey

The mortar did the trick. I glued the tart pan back on after the mortar dried and he stood straight up.

turkey parts
I found a metal knob to use as the turkey’s head, a couple of small silver disks to use as eyes and a gold hex nut to use as his beak.

turkey assemblage
 I glued the facial features onto the head and glued the head onto the Jell-O mold body. I also attached a fancy swirly paper clip under his head to look like a waddle.

turkey robot
The weight of the head messed with the center of gravity again, but, happily, I discovered that if I screwed the legs a little further into his body and arranged his feet so they were slightly pigeon-toed,  I could get him to stand straight up.

Isn’t he cute? I’m not sure if he’s an improvement over the original, but he definitely has his own personality.

 

Makeover | Decoupaged jewelry box

Here’s my latest makeover project: a jewelry box.

decoupaged jewelry box

Here’s what it looked like when I found it at a thrift store:

exterior before
The grey pleather and the plastic handles were a little sad.

interior before
But when I opened the box up and saw the beautiful blue velvet interior, I knew it had to come home with me.

jewelry box handles
I figured I’d decoupage over the pleather and see if I could find replacement handles, or at the very least, put a fresh coat of paint on the old ones.

idea-ology tissue paper
When I dug through my crafts cache to see what I could decoupage over the box, I unearthed this roll of idea-ology tissue paper that I had bought a few months earlier just because I loved the design on it.

painting before decoupaging
I basecoated the box with white paint to make sure the grey pleather wouldn’t show through the semi-transparent tissue paper. The blue inserts popped out easily so I was able to get paint into all the nooks and crannies inside.

basecoated jewelry box
I decided to remove the white plastic handles to make the box easier to decoupage.

jewelry box handles
Most of the pegs on the backs of the handles broke off as I pried them out, so I wasn’t going to be able to reuse them. I wasn’t sure at that point what I would use for replacement handles, but I figured I’d cross that bridge when I got to it.

decoupaging with tissue paper
 In the meantime, I started decoupaging.

decoupaging with tissue paper
I used watered-down Elmer’s glue for decoupage medium, painting it onto the box one side at a time, wrapping the paper around the corners as I went along.

smoothing out wrinkles while decoupaging
 I used a plastic scraper to smooth out wrinkles and bubbles.

jewelry box decoupage
The drawer was the last piece I decoupaged.

replacement knobs for jewelry box
 I couldn’t find any replacement handles with the pegs the right distance apart to fit into the holes in the box, so I ended up having to use some screw posts I found at Menards.

replacement knobs for jewelry box
I didn’t like the silver color they came in, so I painted them before I screwed them into place.

new knobs on jewelry box
 The black knobs match the box’s new vintage/industrial vibe.

jewelry box makeover
By the time I had the last piece of tissue paper adhered, my glue bottle was empty, so I finished the box off with a couple of thin coats of matte-finish polyurethane for protection.

jewelry box interior
Here’s what the jewelry box looks like now when it’s open.

jewelry box blue interior
Here’s the bottom drawer opened.

jewelry box blue interior
 And here the box is filled up.

jewelry box blue velvet interior

 

Makeover | A new look for an old chair

chair makeover
Old, unwanted chairs have a way of finding me. This one was waiting for me on the curb outside of my son’s apartment building in Milwaukee.

chair makeover
Here’s what it looked like when I found it. The hunter green was a little dated, but otherwise the chair was in great shape, so (much to my son’s embarrassment), I threw it into the back of my Jeep and took it along home with me.

chair makeover
I gave the seat a quick once over with a sander to get some paint spatters off it. I didn’t try to sand it down perfectly because I wanted it to have a kind of worn, uneven finish when I was done with it.

chair makeover
Then I grabbed the darkest color of stain I could find in my basement stash. When I opened the can and saw it was a hardened glop — grrr — I grabbed the second darkest color of stain I could find (Varathane American Walnut) and applied it to the seat.

chalk-painted chair
After that, I dug out some leftover black chalk paint to cover the hunter green parts. When I realized my chalk paint was also a hardened glop — apparently it’s been a while since I’ve done any painting or staining — I mixed up a homemade batch (a little bit of water, a little bit of plaster of Paris and some black latex that was thankfully still in a liquid state).

chalk-painted chair
My homemade chalk paint was a little on the thin side, so it ended up taking three coats to cover all of the hunter green.

chair makeover
 After painting, I started marking out diagonal lines on the seat.

chalk-painted chair
 Here’s what the final grid pattern looked like.

chalk-painted chair
 I put a dab of black paint in the middle of every other diamond.

chalk-painted chair
Then I started filling in the marked diamonds. I used painters tape to make sure I had nice, crisp lines to start with, but I ditched the tape after the first coat because it was slowing me down.

chalk-painted chair
It took three coats to get full coverage on the diamonds, too.

chair makeover
(Next time, I’ll use less water when mixing my own chalk paint.)

polyurethane over chalk paint
To protect the paint, I gave the whole chair a couple coats of matte finish polyurethane.

chair makeover

Vacation | Cayman Islands, Part 2 (More than Margaritas)

Hello again, blog friends. To anybody who read Part 1 of what I promised would be a two-part story about our adventure on Grand Cayman back in the spring, I apologize.

Somehow, half a year has gone by since I wrote that post. If anybody is still curious about what we did (besides drinking all of the margaritas in Margaritaville), here, at long last, is Part 2.

Cayman Spirits Co.
Our first outing away from our resort was to the Cayman Spirits Co., makers of “handcrafted artisanal rum.”

Cayman Spirits Co.
The tour of the distillery was short — about 30 minutes — and sweet — ending in a tasting room, where we got to sample all of the different varieties of rum that the company makes.

Cayman Spirits Co.

Jim thought the banana rum was the best, but (once again) he was wrong. The coconut was much better. Mmmm. We bought a bottle (along with a carton of pineapple juice to mix it with) to take back to our room, because man (and woman) cannot live on margaritas alone.

crosswalk

The Caymans are a British territory, which is a mixed blessing for American visitors like us. The good news is that everybody speaks English. The bad news is that everybody drives on the left side of the road.

taxi in George Town

We walked or took cabs everywhere we went, because neither one of us was brave enough to get behind the wheel ourselves.

Camana Bay shopping center

On our second day on the island, we went for a walk and wandered into a cute little shopping center called Camana Bay. Sadly, we couldn’t do much shopping because it was a Sunday, and virtually all of the stores in the Caymans are closed on Sundays.

ice cream shop window
Restaurants were open though, so we drowned our sorrows in ice cream.

wild chicken

And we had a good laugh at all the chickens strutting around the shopping center. I guess feral chickens are everywhere in the Caribbean (at least on all of the islands we’ve been to), but to a farmgirl from Wisconsin, they always seem a little out of place.

mosaic

In the middle of the shopping center, we discovered a five-story observation tower that had a stunning sea life mosaic all the way up one wall.

sealife mosaic

I think I took more photos of the mosaic on the walk up than I did of the view when we got to the top.

Camana Bay
I was utterly charmed by Camana Bay — until the next day, when we were talking to a local woman about it and she informed us (none too happily) that it was owned by a billionaire Styrofoam cup magnate from Michigan who, after he inherited his fortune from his father, denounced his American citizenship, moved to the Caymans (which is a tax-free country) and bought up a quarter of the island’s real estate.

Camana Bay
Camana Bay lost a little of its luster after that, in my mind, at least.

submarine tour Grand Cayman

On another day, we took an underwater submarine tour. (Sorry about the tilted horizon. I’d like to blame the margaritas for my shoddy photography, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t start drinking that day until well after the sub ride.)

Atlantis Submarines

Here’s the interior of the sub (at a more sober angle).

submarine tour Grand Cayman

Cards like this one were hanging in front of all of the portholes to help us identify the fish that lived in this part of the Caribbean.

 submarine tour
Unfortunately, this is mostly what I saw. A big blue window with some nondescript little floaties swimming by. Jim claims he saw a lot of the actual fish pictured on the card, but every time he tried to point one out to me, it had mysteriously disappeared by the time I was looking.

Breeze's Bistro

After our submarine ride, we walked around George Town and had lunch and drinks at an overpriced bar/restaurant, directly across from where the cruise ships come into port. (There’s no dock; the ships just anchor offshore, and tenders ferry the passengers back and forth.)

Breeze's Bistro

The bar had a very fun Caribbean vibe …

Breeze's Bistro

… and the view of the water and the downtown was amazing, which more than made up for the inflated prices.

Breeze's Bistro

The best part was that the waitresses were wearing T-shirts featuring Caymans’ sayings like the one pictured above. I should probably explain here that my husband’s family has always called him “Bobo” for some reason. (The bar had shirts for sale, but, sadly, only children’s sizes.)

George Town

In the Caymans, Bobo means “buddy” or “the object of one’s affection.”

Margaritaville
We spent the rest of that afternoon bar hopping and shopping in George Town.

souvenirs

Fortunately we remained (just) sober enough to refrain from buying any of the many, many, many kitschy souvenirs we saw (although it was touch and go for a while there).

blue iguana

Another outing took us to the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, where we saw one of the island’s beloved blue iguanas. (Can you see him in the photo above? He’s right in the center of the picture, but he’s pretty well camouflaged. We were almost on top of him before we noticed him.)

Invasive green iguanas are everywhere on the island, but the blues, which are native to the Caymans, are sadly few and far between. The botanic park operates a recovery program that is trying to bring the population back.

Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park

Our hike through the botanic park also took us past quite a few trees that looked like this. Apparently they got knocked over when Hurricane Ivan battered the island in 2004 and then just started growing upward again.

Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park

We also got to see this guy (which I really could have done without — I haaaaate snakes). Thankfully he just slithered around this pink post and then headed off into the forest. We were told there are three types of snakes on Grand Cayman, none of which are poisonous. But still. After we saw this guy, I kept staring at the ground in front of me because I was paranoid I was going to step on one of his brethren.

Pedro St. James National Historic Site

We also spent some time at the Pedro St. James National Historic Site, which is home to the oldest building on the Caymans. The three-story structure dates back to 1780, when it was built by Jamaican slaves for its British owner. Later, it hosted the first meeting of the elected parliament of the Cayman Islands and became known as the birthplace of democracy.

Pedro St. James National Historic Site

The building had many uses over the years and eventually fell into a state of disrepair and was abandoned. In the 1990s, it was bought by the government of the Cayman Islands and restored. If you’re into history, it’s an interesting site to explore.

Pedro St. James National Historic Site

The house was designed to take advantage of its coastal location, with a series of louvered shutters and doors that can be opened to bring cool winds in when the weather is nice and then closed to provide protection from storms.

Grand Cayman cafe
Here’s a cute little Caymanian cafe that we had lunch at one day. I loved the high ceilings and the bright colors, but the truth is we were only inside the restaurant long enough to snap a couple pictures and ask to get a table on the patio (because it was a beautiful, sunny, 85 degree day in the Caymans, and it was snowing back home).

Cemetery Beach
I took this photo one day when we were walking down Seven Mile Beach. The site of a cemetery there — on some of the island’s most valuable real estate — seemed odd to me, but we were told the ground further inland is a hard coral limestone that’s impossible to dig into, so graves are located seaside by necessity.

Cayman Islands currency

Here’s a picture of some Caymanian currency, just because I thought it was delightful.

Owen Roberts International Airport

This was our final stop on Grand Cayman: the Owen Roberts International Airport, which is the most insanely crowded airport I’ve ever been in. It was literally wall to wall people.

I have hundreds of other pictures, but I’ll stop here, before I lose the one or two readers who stuck with the post this far. (Your welcome.)

P.S. The Caymans are in the western part of the Caribbean and were not not hit by the hurricanes that devastated the islands in the eastern Caribbean earlier this fall. I heard they had some flooding and damage from a tropical storm this past week, but it sounds like it was relatively minor, so if you’re looking for a warm winter or spring vacation destination, the Caymans are open.

Vacation | Cayman Islands, Part 1 (Booze and Beaches)

 Margaritaville Resort Cayman Islands

Welcome to Lisa and Jim’s Caribbean Vacation 2017. This year’s adventure took us to Grand Cayman. Why Grand Cayman? Because I wanted to go to Cuba, and Jim wanted to go to The Bahamas. After 27 years of marriage, we’ve learned to compromise. Occasionally. Grudgingly. After we’ve been going eyeball to eyeball for six months and neither one of us is willing to blink and it finally becomes apparent that we are in danger of not going on a vacation at all.

Caribbean map

If you’re wondering where the Cayman Islands are, here is a detailed scientific map of the area that I photographed off the back of a T-shirt. See the big island south of the amputated bottom of Florida? That’s Cuba. And the little island south of Cuba? That’s Jamaica. The Caymans are south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica, but as far as I can tell, they’re not actually on this map. The words are there, but the islands themselves appear to have been swallowed whole by the leaves of a gigantic mutant palm tree.

Grand Cayman
Once we finally agreed that we were going to the Caymans, I turned the chore of making reservations over to Jim. He decided we should stay at the new Margaritaville Resort in George Town. When I say “new,” I mean “so new that it was scheduled to open two weeks before we got there.” And “so new that parts of the resort weren’t even finished when we got there.” Like the elevator that went up to our room on the third floor …

Cayman Islands

… and four of the resort’s six restaurants. I gave Jim a hard time about it every time we had to walk up the stairs or heard a jackhammer outside our door, but truthfully, we both knew what we were getting into and I had (happily) agreed to it. Because of the construction, we were able to get a pretty great deal on our accommodations, which were on the island’s swanky Seven Mile Beach, in a brand new hotel that was absolutely beautiful. (And frankly, we didn’t consider having to climb three flights of stairs while on a fabulous Caribbean vacation to be much of a hardship — although judging by Trip Advisor comments, some of our fellow travelers didn’t share our point of view.)

Cayman Islands
This was the view from the balcony outside our room. The best part about staying in a resort that was not 100 percent complete was that it was only about 30 percent occupied while we there, so there were always empty beach chairs and unused umbrellas and we never had to wait in line for anything.

Grand Cayman
This was the grownups pool. The little straw-roofed hut in the background is the bar, which, yes, you could swim up to. (We’re willing to put up with jackhammers and no elevators when we’re on vacation, but a swim-up bar is non-negotiable.)

Margaritaville Resort
Behind the two pools there was a row of flowering bushes. And behind the bushes was the beach.

Grand Cayman
This was the bar in the lobby (photographed at approximately 10 a.m. — it got considerably busier as the day went on).

Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman
And this was the resort’s 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar and Grill out by the grownups pool area. Between the two bars, there were bands playing every night of our stay.

Cayman Islands
I decided on Day 1 of vacation that I was going to drink my way through the resort’s margarita menu…

Margaritaville Beach Resort Cayman Islands
… which turned out to be much less of a challenge than I had anticipated.

Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman
This was my favorite: the Wildberry Tropical Fruit Margarita, frozen. Mmmm. The perfect beach drink.

Cayman Islands
Anyhoo, by the end of Day 2, I had not only reached my goal, but I had a new BFF: our Canadian bartender, who may or may not have been named Brian but who totally took my side in the Cuba vs. Bahamas argument. Thank you, Brian (or whatever your name was). I promise to think of you next year when I am smoking cigars in Havana.

Seven Mile Beach Grand Cayman
All of the beaches on Grand Cayman are public up to the high-water mark, including the stretches in front of the resorts, so you can go for a nice long walk along the shoreline. Here’s a heart-shaped piece of coral I found one day when I was out wandering.

Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman
Seven Mile Beach (which is actually only 5 1/2 miles long) is supposed to be one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.

Margaritaville Resort Grand Cayman
It was so pretty in the evening. The lights would come on on the palm trees as it started getting dark.

Seven Mile Beach
And the sunsets were just spectacular.

Seven Mile Beach
All of these photos were taken with my iPhone. I was kind of surprised how well they turned out.

Seven Mile Beach

Sigh…

Anyhoo, that’s it for Part 1 of The Cestkowskis’ Caribbean Vacation 2017 Edition, but I have a lot more left to share. So tune in tomorrow (or whenever I get around to writing again) for Part 2, in which Jim and I venture off campus and actually see something beyond bars and beaches.

Crafting | Newspaper flowers

So I was supposed to be packing and shopping and generally getting ready for vacation today.

paper crafting

Instead I made newspaper flowers.

paper crafting
Why? Because newspaper flowers don’t make themselves, people.paper crafting

Plus, I had this little tray full of silver baubles sitting on my coffee table, and every time I walked past it, I would think, “This little tray would look so much better with a few newspaper flowers on it.”

So I finally broke down and made some.

paper crafting

For the big flowers, I grabbed a few random circular things from around the house and traced around them.
paper crafting
 Then I cut out the circles and cut slits into them, to make petals.
curling paper
I curled the edges of the petals by wrapping them around the end of a paint brush.
paper crafting
 Then I stacked the circles, from largest to smallest, gluing each layer down in the center as I went.
paper crafting
 To give the flowers some shape, I pressed down with the end of a paintbrush while gluing.
paper crafting
I topped off each flower with an old earring.
paper crafting
Then I fluffed and bent the petals to give the flowers more dimension and spattered some paint on them, just because.
paper crafting
To make the little button flowers, I punched out some newspaper circles …
paper crafting
… and glued the circles together into five-petal flowers.
paper crafting
Then I sewed a button on in the middle of each one.
paper crafting
Probably not the best use of my time the week before I leave on vacation.

But they make me happy.

Valentine’s Day | Wisconsin bulletin board

Valentine's Day
Meet my new state-of-the-heart bulletin board.

Valentine's Day craft

This is what it looked like when I bought it (at a thrift store, of course). It had a nice beefy frame that was painted in a neutral cream color — and the paint was chipping in spots, so there was a little bit of mint green showing through here and there. I loved the chunky, chippy old frame. The orange cork, not so much.

painting a cork board with chalk paint
To de-orangify the cork, I broke out some leftover cream chalk paint (Americana Decor Chalky Finish/Lace). It took two coats to cover.

Valentine's Day craft

I didn’t want my lovely new/old bulletin board to get overwhelmed with notes and photos and general clutter, so I decided I’d put a neat, orderly collage on the top half of it. To make the collage, I picked up three packages of different sized heart cutouts.

The pink and red were not working for me, so I painted the hearts black.

I found a map of Wisconsin online that I sized to fit the width of the bulletin board and printed out.

Valentine's Day bulletin board
I lined up the tiled pieces of the map, taped them together and then cut around the perimeter.

Valentine's Day bulletin board
Next I lightly traced all the way around the border with a pencil.

crafting with hearts
Then I started filling inside the map with my hearts.

crafting with hearts
I started at the bottom and worked from the outside in.

Valentine's Day bulletin board

I tried to keep the outside row of hearts as close to the border as I could. I also tried to keep the pattern random, alternating the sizes of the hearts and the direction they were facing as much as possible.

Valentine's Day bulletin board
When I had all the pieces roughly where I wanted them to go, I adhered them to the board. The formerly red glitter hearts I stuck down with rubber cement. The others were peel-and-stick.

Valentine's Day craft
The last thing I did was erase the pencil line. (I started erasing it before I adhered the hearts, but every time I tried blowing the eraser residue away I would inadvertently blow unattached hearts all over. So eventually I wised up and realized I would be better off to stick everything down first.)

Valentine's Day craft
Here’s the bulletin board propped up on my desk. I can still tack notes and things to the bottom half of the board, but the top is all nice and neat.

 

Valentine’s Day | Hearts on a string decoration

Valentine’s Day decorations are generally not my thing. Most of the mass-produced ones out there are way too saccharine sweet and frilly for me.
Valentine's Day craft project
So this year, I decided I’d make my own Valentine’s Day decor: something with a vintage industrial vibe that I wouldn’t mind actually hanging in my house.
Valentine's Day craft
I started with these little aluminum pans that I found at a thrift store. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with them when I bought them — but I knew it wasn’t going to involve baking.
Pretty much every craft project I do lately begins with a coat of black chalk paint, so that’s where I started with this one, too.
Then I cut a few hearts out of an old newspaper to layer over the black background.
LOVE
And, as luck would have it, I had the letters I needed to spell out the word “LOVE” in the stash of random letters and numbers that I have hoarded over the years.
LOVE
I wasn’t thrilled with the bright colors, so the letters got a coat of black chalk paint, too.
LOVE
Then I put some silver craft paint over top, slapdash style, letting the black peek through for a tarnished metal effect.
Valentine's Day craft
I drilled holes in the top and bottom of each pan …
drilling a hole in a metal pan
… just big enough to pull a piece of twine through.
Valentine's Day craft
I grunged up the newspaper hearts with some watered down paint and old coffee grounds…
Valentine's Day craft
… and I Mod Podged the newspaper onto the bottom on the pans.Valentine's Day decoration

To tie the hearts all together, I threaded pieces of jute twine through the holes.
string of hearts
I had a few beads on hand that I added here and there. (I wish I would have had more.)

string of hearts

The last step was to glue the letters on over the newspaper.
string of metal hearts
(The letters have magnets in them, but the pans are aluminum, and unfortunately magnets don’t stick to aluminum; hence the need for glue.)

Valentine's day craft project

Here’s the completed string o’ hearts. Love it.

2016 | Favorite projects and posts

Because all the other bloggers are doing it, I felt that I, too, should offer a Year in Review for Wisconsin Magpie … So here it is.
Best of 2016 Blog Posts
Let me start by saying, I don’t have a whole lotta posts to choose from when compiling my “Best Of” list because I fell off the blogging bandwagon for a while.
Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts
Thankfully, my husband and I took a couple of vacations that helped me get back on track. I love writing posts about our travels. They’re basically a digital scrapbook for me, but hopefully a few other people find them entertaining or informative, too.
Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts
Personally, I love to read other people’s travel blogs, especially if they’re writing about some place we’ve gone to before or are thinking about going to in the future. (The best part of the travel blog is that if you get bored, you can just close your browser window and walk away, unlike in the old days when you’d have to sit through your Uncle Frank’s entire slide slow, and just when you thought you were free, he’d pull out another carousel of Grand Canyon pictures.)
Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts
Anyhoo, if anybody is still with me, in March we went to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Then in September we went to Mackinac Island.You can click on the links if you want to read the posts. Or not.
Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts
In addition to my travel posts, I did some fun project posts. One of my favorites was my Ohio Star Quilt Square Chair.

Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts
I love the chair, but when I shared the post on Hometalk, most of the comments were about the table I had it sitting next to. Some of the commenters said the table should be my next project; others said the table was stunning as is in all its weathered, chippy glory. For the record, I am in the “stunning as is” camp.
Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts
Another favorite project post was the one about my Twine-wrapped Dog and Cat
Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts
… mostly because they were thrift store rescues. (Cue the Sarah McLachlan ballad here.) I am a sucker for a good thrift store rescue.
Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts
In October I made this Halloween sign
Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts

… and in November I made my little Turkey Robot (from a vegetable steamer and various other metal parts). The Turkey Robot is my all-time No. 1 most-viewed and most-pinned post.

Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts
If I die tomorrow, I’m pretty sure my obit will read, “Lisa Cestkowski, inventor of the Turkey Robot, died at her home today, surrounded by her beloved cats, Calvin and Hobbes, who are also the two prime suspects in her murder and stand to inherit her entire fortune, which, unbeknownst to them, consists wholly of knickknacks, geegaws and broken thrift store ‘finds’ that, much to her husband’s chagrin, she had stockpiled in the couple’s basement with intentions to make over into ‘something fabulous.'” Or something like that.
Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts
My post about my collection of Secondhand Stars also got a lot of page views and comments. (And by “a lot” I mean 285 and 8, respectively.) (Quit judging me.)Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts

I ended the year blogging about this little Train Case Makeover

Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts

… which garnered (even by my standards) very few page views. (In part, I think the low page views were due to the fact that I forgot to put links to it on social media, so I’m including it in this post, in hopes that at least somebody sees it.)
Wisconsin Magpie Best of 2016 Blog Posts

My last post of the year (except for the one you’re reading now) was about a shirt that I stenciled for a university that doesn’t exist.

Best of 2016 blog posts
So there you have it. Thanks for following along. And please, share links to any posts you love/like/are not totally repulsed by. It is great for my ego when I go to my analytics page and see that someone other than my mother has been reading my blog.