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Captain America LED Monogram Tutorial

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Or ‘How do you get molten glue off of raw flesh? Asking for a friend.’

I wanted to make a tutorial for the Hollywood style ‘movies’ sign that I made for Christmas last year and used for our staycation a few weeks back.  But I already have a movies sign, so what would be the point in making another one?  Nothing, that’s what.  Bummer.

Fossicking around downstairs I came across some leftover LEDs from that project which I had bought at the $2 store.  Sadly, I’m a numpty sometimes and I accidentally bought some coloured lights when I needed all white for my original project.  But luckily for this numpty those forgotten red and blue LED packs sparked an idea for a new, but strikingly similar project.  I would supersize my original sign and make a Captain America themed LED monogram letter for my daughter.  We are slowly going through and refurnishing her room, this would be a great addition to the makeover.

I feel it only right to mention here that the Hollywood style movies sign was not my idea.  I wanted to create an outdoor movie theatre for Christmas for our kids and I saw one in a picture I found on Google images.  It looked easy enough to make my own so I broke out the hot glue gun and had a bash.  Quite the successful bash if I do say so myself.

captain_america led monogram tutorial_pin

Now, my daughter’s name starts with A, so that is what I went with and it is what I will be referring to as we go through the tutorial.  Substitute the first letter of your child’s name in or leave it as an A for America, Captain America.

Sorry, started to channel James Bond for a moment there.

captain america led needs list

Before we start I would just like to put it out there that I still have all my own skin despite my inherent clumsiness and my husband should just sod off.  I can totally be trusted with the hot glue gun.  I mean, I did suffer minor burns, but that is to be expected.  A craft project without serious injury is a success in my book.

publisher document captain america a

Using whatever graphics program you have (or drawing it up by hand if you have more skills than I do) print your A to size.  Although I don’t use it for anything else, Publisher’s banners function allows you to print over several pages with no effort so that’s the program I chose.  My letter took up four pages.

Layer three circles onto the A to create the rings of the ‘sheild’.  Cover up the middle of the A with a triangle shape that has white fill and no border and replace the middle with a star.

Print two copies out.

Turn each copy over and tape together.

captain america led monogram tutorial step two

Attach one of your printouts to cardboard with a light run of glue.

Using art knife cut the A out, including the star in the middle. Pull your template off.  If you work quickly the glue won’t have had time to dry.

Rule a line half way in from the outer edge.  Mark every 2 cm.  Using something pokey like a skewer, poke holes through the card every two centimetres.  This will be your guide to where your lights will go through.

captain america led monogram tutorial step four

Using the second template you printed, cut circles out of card.

From largest to smallest you will need to cut: white, red, blue.

captain america led monogram tutorial

Glue a piece of red card to the front of the A, completely covering it.  Cut off the excess, including the star in the middle.

Glue the white circle onto the middle of the A.  Cut off excess

Repeat for the red and blue circles, cutting off the excess after each layer.  Check all edges are secured and glue down if necessary.  You should now have a shield on your monogram, congratulate yourself and try not to drink the wine until after you have finished using the hot glue gun.

captain america led monogram tutorial step 5

To build up the back make frames by tracing around the A on to more cardboard.  Rule a line 1 cm in from the edges and cut to create an outline and cut out the middle.

Do this twice more

captain america led monogram tutorial step six

While you are at it, cut two more As exactly the same as the first.  One out of the cardboard and the other from red card.  Put these aside, they will become the backing pieces.

captain america led monogram tutorial step seven

Using hot glue, secure the frames to the back of the A one on top of the other.

Trim the outside edges to make them straight.

Cut strips of red card 8 cm wide.  These will need to be long enough to go all the way around the outside edge of the A.  Depending on the length of your card, you will need to cut at least 2 and secure them end to end with hot glue.

Draw a line 2 cm in from the edge and score with the back edge of your art knife.

If you have never scored anything before, this is just cutting a VERY shallow line in the card to give your fold a crisp edge.

Starting at the top of a long straight edge of the A, run a line of glue along the built-up edge.   Glue the red strip along the edge.  The scored edge should be at the back of the A with the 2 cm overhanging the back.

Run the red stripping all the way around the A, scoring the corners as you go.

Cut into the corners and clip just like you are covering school books with contact.  Hot glue the overhang down at the back.

Take your 3 LED strings and join them together using a spot of solder.  If you don’t have skills and a soldering iron or (like my husband often threatens me with) you have had your hot-and-burny-things privileges taken away due to clumsiness you can either of the following:

  1. Use one longer string of lights
  2. Use the three strings and just have three battery packs on the back.

I’ll endeavour to have a separate post for soldering the lights together within the week and link to it.

captain america led monogram tutorial step eight

Cut a notch in the star just large enough for the light string to poke through on the backing A you cut earlier.  Cover over the edges of the backing piece with red card.

captain america led monogram tutorial step i-lost-count

Flip your monogram over and grab your thin pokey thing again.  Punch the holes you made earlier all the way through the card you glued over the original guide holes.

Now turn it back to the front and widen those holes so they are just smaller than your LEDs.  I used a philips head screwdriver for this.  You want to push it through from the front to make the cleanest hole.  It will minimise the ragged edges to be cleaned up later.

Alternating the red, white and blue lights, push the LEDs through so just the tip of the light is showing.  Once they are all in place, secure them with a spot of hot glue. If you have a few LEDs left over without holes, it is no big deal.  Just leave leave them loose and entomb them inside the body of the letter.

With the battery back on the outside, glue the thick cardboard backing piece in place.

Cut an 8 cm strip of blue card, securing two together if needed as you did with the red card.  As with the red stripping, draw a line 2 cm in from the edge and score.  Line the star in the middle the same way you did around the outside with red card.  Swear a little and try not to drown your frustrations in wine.

Fail, drink wine and continue on.

Fold the scored edges to theback and glue in place.

Cover the back with the red backing card you cut earlier.

All there is left to do is to secure the battery pack to the back of the letter with hot glue and you can drink the rest of your wine without fear of having to explain your hot glue gun accident at the emergency room.

captain america led monogram tutorial 1

 

 

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It is confusing living in my head

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Or My Train of Thought Has Derailed

My train of thought whilst standing in the shower:

My life has become less funny and more grown up.  I think it is attitude really.  I need to start viewing my life as a series of stories to be told again. Like the time that my washing machine broke and instead of rolling my eyes and treating it like a hindrance when my g-strings got spread out all over the car park I just laughed about it and wrote about it to a friend.  Do Americans have laundries in their apartments?  You never see them in the laundry on the telly and they are always downstairs in the laundry room or going to the laundromat.  And what’s with people having a washing machine in the kitchen?  That to me is just asking for trouble, I’d be constantly worried that I was going to wash the chicken and put the delicates in to bake at 180˚C.  I could go a roast beef with yorkeshire puddings and gravy.  Mmmm a savoury and a sweet at once.  I think I’ll watch Doctor Who today.

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Use your child’s passion to engage them in their mental health recovery

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“Hi, Mum.  I’m not doing so good.”
“No?  What’s up, Hon?”
“I’m feeling really anxious.”
“Where on a scale of ‘Hobbit in his hole’ to ‘Smaug thinking all this treasure has been stolen’ is your anxiety?”
“Dwarves invading Bilbo’s hole.”
“Sooo… coping on the outside, but running around on the inside making sure they’re not destroying your furniture and eating everything in the larder?”
“Yeah… did you know that in the book Bilbo invites them to dinner and….”

My daughter has barely been to school this year.  I’d say it is fair to say that she has done about 7 classes in total outside of the first day of school.  It’s not because she doesn’t want to be there.  God knows she tried her hardest to get there every day.  And she made amazing progress with her anxiety disorder on the holiday we went on.  But the first day of school for term 2 this year wasn’t exactly a good day for us.  I’d go so far as to say that life put her in a Vulcan Death Grip and gave her an overacted Shatner-esque death scene that morning .  (On a side note, I am unsure what is worse, Spock being pissed off at you or having to watch Shatner act).

So back to her doctor and psychologist we went to try and get things under control.

The conversation at the beginning of this post was a spur of the moment way to ask her to discuss her anxiety while keeping it light yet descriptive.  It worked.  And after using her Hobbit anxiety scale for a week or two I realised it had become an invaluable tool.  Finally we had a known scale to communicate an abstract concept with. One that she could embrace and not roll her eyes at as she sometimes does with the professionally made scales and cards used in counselling.  These often come off as either too generic and sappy or childish.  Now we could use fantasy and metaphor to describe the feelings that weigh her down every day.

“Hi, Hon”
“Hey Mum”
“I’m just calling to check how my little hobbit is doing.”
“Bilbo left his hanky at home.”
“So, feeling anxious about everything ahead and trying to find any excuse to go home where it is safe?”
“Yeah.”

Her psychologist had suggested she try to imagine her anxiety as a monster at her last appointment, and this tied in nicely to her new Hobbit Anxiety Scale.  Together we worked on a predefined scale that she could visualise her anxiety on.  She wrote the scale then I drew it up and had it printed as a poster for her room so she would always have a reminder; she now didn’t need to stress about remembering or creating in the midst of her panic.  And we never need to get back on this carousel:

“How bad is it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Imagine it is a scale of 1 – 10”
“I don’t know.”

Sound familiar?  We had been going around on the same carousel for about six months before my daughter and I found our way to step off of that spiralling roundabout of pointlessness.  After all that time I had begun to navigate our situation by blending my training and experience as a youth worker with my love and knowledge as a parent.

As a parent, I wanted to do everything I could to work within the parameters given to me by trained professionals.  My fear and desperation to keep my daughter safe had blinded me to the fact I had skills and knowledge of my own to bring to the table which were every bit as valuable.

Skills as a youth worker and knowledge of the things that my daughter was passionate about as a parent.

About 18 months previously I had been participating in a train the trainer course for the anger management course RAGE.  Drawing heavily, in fact, I’d go so far as to say exclusively, on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, it used scaling as its central theme.  The majority of participants worked with teens as the course was primarily designed to deal with.  However, one woman worked with 5 – 8-year-olds.  We got talking during a participatory exercise, she was concerned with her charges being unable to rationalise their anger on to an abstract number scale.  I suggested replacing the numbers with superheroes instead.  One being Bruce Banner, two being Ironman, all the way up to ten being The Hulk.  Her face lit up with excitement with this simple change, she knew the children she cared for would be able to identify the intensity of their anger far better with this change to the scale.

So today I would say this to you.  You know yourself and your children better than anyone else.  Find the thing that helps them connect with their anxiety.  To define it and understand it.  And run with that.  It doesn’t matter if it falls into the predefined categories or standardised boxes that professionals have already created to manage the disorder you’re fighting together.  Take the framework that they have laid out for you and give it the twist it needs to engage your child.  Life is to be lived and loved, the battle does not have to be a long dark tunnel.  Take your child’s passion and bring light and colour to the tunnel you’re in.

My daughter has given me permission to share her scale with you and provide a printable version for your own anxious geeklings.  She hopes it helps.

I’d love to hear how you’ve faired using this yourself below or the individual flair you’ve brought to supporting your own child.

Hobbit Anxiety Scale.  Click to print.
Click for a printable PDF of our Hobbit Anxiety Scale

 

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DIY Wishing Well or Cards Box for your Wedding

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wishing well header

AKA ‘check out my box’

I’m a big fan of not spending $35,000 on a wedding.  My second (and favourite…so far) wedding was a simple ceremony held on a little rocky outcrop overlooking the scalloped beach below.  Waves crashing against islands scattered throughout Brisbane Water in the distance .  I was married in jeans, a cheesecloth shirt and FABULOUS shoes.  There was no stress, little expense, and we were able to spend the morning sightseeing our way down to the ‘venue’ with family who had never visited the Central Coast before.  It was the most relaxing and memorable day.  Ten guests, lots of love and laughter and only a little bit of drunkenly setting fire to a napkin at the reception.  Accidentally.  Accidentally setting fire to a napkin; the word accidentally is integral to the situation and often overlooked by my husband as he retells that anecdote.

A friend, for whom I will be a bridesmaid for in October, posted on Facebook that she would like someone to make a box for her cards to be put in at the wedding.  The post was accompanied by a shared picture from the  DIY Weddings Central Coast Facebook page.

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Eager to be helpful and, to be perfectly honest, just as eager to have an excuse to break out my hot glue gun, I was all over that like a stressed out mother on a bottle of wine.

A quick trip to kmart to purchase the box and a not so quick trip to spotlight to gather roses and I was ready to begin.

wishing well list

The hardest part about this project is deciding how you want your flowers to look.  I opted for an alternating pattern that would create a nice, slanting line of each colour. I did consider a randomly placed effect, but I was concerned the bride’s OCD would kick in and cause her to have a nervous tick.

wishing well tutorial step one

Place the flowers around the outside edge of the lid of the box if you’re going for the same look as mine, alternating the colours.  Make sure you’ve got the same number of roses down each vertical edge and each horizontal edge.  Mine held 13 roses horizontally and 10 roses vertically.

Hot glue in place once you’re happy with the look of them.  Continue on your merry way filling in the pattern with the rest of the roses until the whole lid is covered.  Give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate not burning yourself for a change with some sauteed mushrooms, chorizo and scrambled eggs for brunch.

wishing well tutorial step two copy

Print out the letters for CARD, or whatever you want it to say.  If you’re going to cover them in ribbon as I did, you’ll want a fairly basic font.  If you want a fancy font, an alternative is to buy some wooden lettering and paint it.  To get the ribbon covered effect I have used, cut the lettering out that you have printed.

If at this time you feel a bit of pain emanating from your hand, look down and discover the source of your pain is the torrential amount of blood pouring from your finger.  It is best not to question how you managed to hurt yourself on the blunt part of the scissors, it is bound to make you feel a little special and inept.  Place band aid on finger so as not to stain your pretty pastel project and replace every time it is soaked through.  Soldier on, this is crafting, there are bound to be casualties.

Use your handy glue stick to stick the letters to some corrugated cardboard from a reclaimed box that has most likely been cluttering up your shed just waiting for an occasion like this.  Make sure there is no printing on the side that will face out for obvious reasons.

Use an art knife to cut the letters out.

wishing well tutorial step three

Now use these as templates to create another set.  Glue these together to create one thick super-letter.  A gluestick will be fine for this, it will all be held together with ribbon, hot glue and love soon anyway.  Congratulations, you are ready to start covering them in ribbon.

wishing well tutorial step four

To avoid having raw edges showing, cover the ‘feet’ of each letter first. To avoid creases in the ribbon and to work around awkward areas such as the middle of the ‘A’, use short lengths and hot glue at the back rather than one continuous length.  The ‘A’ above has the ‘feet’ covered (you can see the ends of this poking out from under the horizontal lengths) and four smaller lengths wrapped around and glued at the back.  Next I covered the edges of the cross piece and wound ribbon horizontally over it.  Continue on and hope for the best.  You’ll be fine.

Around the curved edges, switch to using the narrower ribbon.  You will get a much nicer finish.

tips copy

 

 

Tip for beginners:  Best not do this in your onesie. Large gaps between buttons can lead to the following text needing to be sent.

wishing well tutorial danger warning

To impede the speed at which you can create your project, you may find this is the point at which the glue stick in your hot glue gun will become quite comfortable where it is and require you to move it along in teeny tiny increments with a pen shoved down the end.  Chalk it up to another casualty and soldier on.  There is crafting to do.

Once the letters are finished, you are almost there.  All that is left to do is arrange them on the lid to make sure you’re happy with the positioning before you use your recalcitrant glue gun to secure them there permanently.

wishing well tutorial step five

All that you have left to do is to add the final embellishments.  Grab your tweezers, beads, stamens and wire to bring it all together.  I threaded beads on to gold wire, twisted off the ends to secure them and glued them in place.  The tweezers are important here as they will keep your precious skin from falling victim to very hot glue and allow you to position the embellishments perfectly, hiding the glue and raw edges.

wishing well tutorial step six

Now lets take it one step further and bring it all together.  I used the remaining roses plus a few beads and sprays to decorate two of the inside corners of the box.

wishing well tutorial finished

And there you have it.  Your personalised, wishing well/cards box for your upcoming nuptials.

Whatever your style, this is a DIY wedding project that can be adapted to reflect your individual personality.  Fill the lid with pokeballs, Marvel character logos or pearls; just make sure it screams ‘this is the day I dreamed of’.

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Do not ship puppies interstate, but if you do make sure you put a sandwich in the box

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The other day I got a phone call that amused me for the rest of the day.  To be honest, as I sit here telling you about it, I’m still pretty amused at myself.  My job can get a little monotonous and sometimes I’m just looking for small ways to keep myself smiling.

Things to know:

  1. In amongst the myriad of things I am responsible for in my job, warehouse logistics is one of them. Boxes come in.  I ship them out.  Pretty straight forward process.
  2. I’m quite sure no one actually reads half the information I have to enter in to the system when I send things out. It seems pointless.
  3. I spend far too much time on the phone talking and emailing our assistant accountant to discuss things that I’m sure HR would tell us were inappropriate for work conversations. We make each other laugh.  A lot. Who wants in on our Zombie Apocalypse team?

Phone rings…

“Hey.  This is Jo.”

“So… this parcel you sent out.  The one marked ‘not puppies’.  It sounds suspiciously like it might be puppies.  Are you posting puppies?  You shouldn’t post puppies.  Were there puppies in that box?”

…takes a second to think about what on earth Lee* is talking about.  Remembers that when entering the information in to the very boring TNT form to ship out very boring supplies to another branch I got bored and wondered if Linda** actually reads the shipping information on the boxes I post her.  She does not.  Turns out that it is Lee’s job to check everything I ship…

Erupts in to laughter.  Mission accomplished.  Much shenanigans planned for the future now I know he has to read every. single. label. that I print.

 

*Not his real name.  There might be a Lee that works for our company, but it is not that one.

**Also not her real name.  See above.

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It’s a Trap!

Admin’s Log: July 15

It has been 5 weeks since Telstra pulled the copper lines out of the street where I work leaving us with no phone or internet service until we could hook up to the NBN. As it stands we have no phone lines out, calls have been diverted to my mobile so there is no real ‘knock off time’ for me, no network connectivity so emails and intranet are down, cannot network to the printer. Shredder still works but am expecting that to change soon. Slowly going crazy. IT guy attending site to fix the issues. Am not planning to let him leave until all is fixed. Will set a subtle, yet 100% effective trap to ensure his capture.

Seriously, 5 weeks since Telstra took our phone lines down and we’re still struggling to get everything back on track.  Needless to say I was super excited to hear that our IT guy was coming to my office to fix our problems.  And after doing our printing at home after hours, using my phone tethered to my laptop as my work desktop is essentially a giant word processor and using my mobile for a work phone, there was no way on this green earth I was letting him leave until it was all fixed.  But how to ensure he stays here until it was  done? <strokes chin thoughtfully>

I present to you the Acme Trevor Trap:

trevor_trap_v1

Complete with kibble and something to drink, all I need to do is put paper down for him to sleep on so he doesn’t make a mess.

What’s that I hear you say?  My trap is cunning and subtle and completely 100% foolproof.  Why thank you, I was pretty impressed with myself, and every client that stepped through the door thought it was brilliant.

The Trevor I was trying to trap?  Walked through the green door RIGHT NEXT TO IT and didn’t see it!  I should have made it larger and more obvious.  Up until now I hadn’t thought that subtlety was my strong point, but *clearly* I was wrong.

His excuse is that he is smarter than the average IT guy (points awarded for the Yogi Bear reference).
I think he is less observant than the av-er-age Bear.

In fairness, I think I’m right.  Because, well, I’m always right for starters.  Also, because – I’m always right.

Next time I’m going to dig a big hole in front of the office entry and cover it with leaves and twigs.  If he didn’t see the trap, there’s no way he will notice that.

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PMS is the Path to the Dark Side

We all know that your teenage years are the best years of  your life complete and utter hell on wheels half the time. Any adult who tries to tell you that they are the best years of your life is not to be trusted with important decisions like whether brussel sprouts are a vegetable or a tiny ball of fart.  (It’s the second one, trust me.  I know things.  I’m the kind of grown up who has never told a child that high school is the best years of their lives.)

Ash: “My uterus is trying to kill me.”

Me: “There is a distinct possibility that your uterus is trying to claw its way out of your stomach and strangle you.”

Ash: “I think it’s trying to take me to the dark side.”

Me: “Don’t do it.  They don’t really have cookies.”

Ash: “They probably do.  But they’d be the ones with sultanas and other nasty things.”

I’m pretty sure that Star Wars would have been a completely different movie if Anakin had been smart enough to realise the cookies were laced with raisin traps *before* going to the dark side.

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to cookies. Cookies lead to raisins. Raisins lead to disappointment.”

The lesson here is that my daughter is more suited to being a Jedi than a Skywalker is.  And that raisins and sultanas are tools employed by the dark side to break the youngling’s spirit.

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Important Work Phone Call

I called my friend in another office to ask her a very important grammar question, because you don’t want internal emails to Head Office to go out without proofing them first.  That’s just unprofessional, People!  And I’m all about looking professional.  That’s why I’m the boss.  No really.

“Okay.  Important Question.  You know what a stickler I am for grammar rules.  Do you think prostitutey has an E in it or just a Y?”

“Ummmm… That’s one of those words I have to see written down.  Gimme a sec. <scribes silently>  It definitely has an E in it.”

“Yeah, cause you only drop the E when you add ING, not when you add Y.”

“Yeah.  And IE just looks funny. <starts giggling>  You need to write that down.  Look at Prostitutie with an IE written down.  Are you doing it?”

“Yeah?  It looks wrong.  Its definitely an EY.”

“No but with an IE it looks all cute.  Like it might be a lip gloss flavour.”

“Eewww Noone wants lip gloss that salty and white.”

“Nooooo.  Like Lip Smackers Prostitutie Fruity.  I’d buy that.  It sounds delicious and  fun.”

<disolves into laughter>

And while I’m sure that prostitutes and flavour derivatives thereof are both delicious* and fun, I am not so sure that it is time for them to be on the supermarket shelves.

*in a completely non-cannibalistic way.  Please don’t eat people. Well, do.  But only in the behind-closed-doors kind of way.  But now I think about it, cannibals probably don’t leave the front door open when they are cooking dinner.  No one wants to see you adding paprika to your great Aunt Ruth who ended up in your favourite goulash recipe because she gave you yet another ugly christmas sweater.  I think I’ve put too much thought in to this already.  So in summation:  Eating people is only for sexy times.  Not for dinner times.  This is an explicit disclaimer to absolve myself of any involvement or responsibility in your freaky and completely illegal canabal parties.

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Sloth For Husband Exchange Program. This Should be a Thing.

My devastatingly loud poor, lovely husband has had bronchitis in the last week and although I feel bad for him, the snoring has reached epic proportions; rivaled only by that of wild bears in the dead of winter and a chain saw hooked up to the speaker used by Marty McFly in Back to the Future. I love him dearly but I’m starting to wonder if baby sloths snore. And if they don’t, is there a “Sloth for Husband Exchange Program”? Is this a thing? It should be a thing. I’m going to look into this, maybe set up a charity or commune to make it happen if I can’t find one.