I finished one more turkey assemblage just in time for Thanksgiving.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s what I started with: a coffee filter basket, a bunch of old measuring spoons and two gold furniture feet.
Step 1 was to slide a bolt through the hole in the tablespoon that would become the turkey’s head …
… and then slide the bolt into the hole in the coffee basket.
So far, so good.
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 …
… and slid them onto the same bolt the head was attached to. I secured them in place with a nut.
He was already starting to look like a turkey.
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.
Then I put everything back together again.
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).
Finally, I dug out a few beads and baubles to use as the turkey’s facial features …
… but when I had them glued on, I was underwhelmed. He felt a little blah. I wanted him to have more personality.
So I dug back into my stash of beads and baubles and tried again.
With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I’d make a 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).
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.
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.
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 …
… so I could attach his legs, which were made out of silver cabinet pulls.
Here’s how they’re attached inside.
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.
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 …
… 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).
The mortar did the trick. I glued the tart pan back on after the mortar dried and he stood straight up.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s what it looked like when I found it at a thrift store:
The grey pleather and the plastic handles were a little sad.
But when I opened the box up and saw the beautiful blue velvet interior, I knew it had to come home with me.
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.
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.
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.
I decided to remove the white plastic handles to make the box easier to decoupage.
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.
In the meantime, I started decoupaging.
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.
I used a plastic scraper to smooth out wrinkles and bubbles.
The drawer was the last piece I decoupaged.
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.
I didn’t like the silver color they came in, so I painted them before I screwed them into place.
The black knobs match the box’s new vintage/industrial vibe.
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.
Here’s what the jewelry box looks like now when it’s open.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
After painting, I started marking out diagonal lines on the seat.
Here’s what the final grid pattern looked like.
I put a dab of black paint in the middle of every other diamond.
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.
It took three coats to get full coverage on the diamonds, too.
(Next time, I’ll use less water when mixing my own chalk paint.)
To protect the paint, I gave the whole chair a couple coats of matte finish polyurethane.
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.
Our first outing away from our resort was to the Cayman Spirits Co., makers of “handcrafted artisanal rum.”
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.
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.
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.
We walked or took cabs everywhere we went, because neither one of us was brave enough to get behind the wheel ourselves.
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.
Restaurants were open though, so we drowned our sorrows in ice cream.
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.
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.
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.
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 lost a little of its luster after that, in my mind, at least.
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.)
Here’s the interior of the sub (at a more sober angle).
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.
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.
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.)
The bar had a very fun Caribbean vibe …
… and the view of the water and the downtown was amazing, which more than made up for the inflated prices.
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.)
In the Caymans, Bobo means “buddy” or “the object of one’s affection.”
We spent the rest of that afternoon bar hopping and shopping in George Town.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Here’s a picture of some Caymanian currency, just because I thought it was delightful.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
… 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.)
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.
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.)
Behind the two pools there was a row of flowering bushes. And behind the bushes was the beach.
This was the bar in the lobby (photographed at approximately 10 a.m. — it got considerably busier as the day went on).
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.
I decided on Day 1 of vacation that I was going to drink my way through the resort’s margarita menu…
… which turned out to be much less of a challenge than I had anticipated.
This was my favorite: the Wildberry Tropical Fruit Margarita, frozen. Mmmm. The perfect beach drink.
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.
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.
Seven Mile Beach (which is actually only 5 1/2 miles long) is supposed to be one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.
It was so pretty in the evening. The lights would come on on the palm trees as it started getting dark.
And the sunsets were just spectacular.
All of these photos were taken with my iPhone. I was kind of surprised how well they turned out.
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.
So I was supposed to be packing and shopping and generally getting ready for vacation today.
Instead I made newspaper flowers.
Why? Because newspaper flowers don’t make themselves, people.
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.
For the big flowers, I grabbed a few random circular things from around the house and traced around them.
Then I cut out the circles and cut slits into them, to make petals.
I curled the edges of the petals by wrapping them around the end of a paint brush.
Then I stacked the circles, from largest to smallest, gluing each layer down in the center as I went.
To give the flowers some shape, I pressed down with the end of a paintbrush while gluing.
I topped off each flower with an old earring.
Then I fluffed and bent the petals to give the flowers more dimension and spattered some paint on them, just because.
To make the little button flowers, I punched out some newspaper circles …
… and glued the circles together into five-petal flowers.
Then I sewed a button on in the middle of each one.
Probably not the best use of my time the week before I leave on vacation.
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.
To de-orangify the cork, I broke out some leftover cream chalk paint (Americana Decor Chalky Finish/Lace). It took two coats to cover.
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.
I lined up the tiled pieces of the map, taped them together and then cut around the perimeter.
Next I lightly traced all the way around the border with a pencil.
Then I started filling inside the map with my hearts.
I started at the bottom and worked from the outside in.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
… 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.
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.
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.)
… 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.)
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.
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.