Tag Archives: DIY

Newspaper “pots” for tomatoes.

Another experiment.

I hate plastic; I might not have enough plastic pots anyway; they wouldn´t be deep cylinders.  So I tried making some pots out of newspaper to pot up my tomatoes into.

I rolled them around a bottle (half-sheet each), crunched in the paper on the bottom, slid the cylinder off the bottle,  and then turned over the half inch at the “brim” to the outside.  That´s what keeps them rolled.  Takes about 20 seconds each.  They kind of try to unroll anyway, but they hold together great once a little soil goes in them.

It remains to be seen how well they hold together once they have a plant in them and get watered.  But if all goes well, I can write the variety right on the paper with a Sharpie, and I suppose I can put them directly in the ground as is (that´s a lot of newspaer ink, though).

Ready to accept transplants.  We shall see.

So far, so good

Electrical tape chessboard

Easiest, fastest DIY chessboard ever.

Requires: pre-existing surface, partial roll of electrical tape, scissors.  Straight edge and a pencil should you wish it to be mostly square.

Does not include chess pieces.

Takes about an hour.  That’s a lot of little pieces of tape.


H.W. has been agitating for a proper sized chessboard, since his little travel set, where the pieces fit inside the hinged box that forms the playing surface, is very, very small.  We have actually discussed during a game whether we should use tweezers to move the pieces , since it’s so easy to reach in for one and scatter a whole battalion.

So, electrical tape + kitchen table = voila.

First I lightly drew a few lines to grid it out, since I did want it to be square (a chessboard is 8 squares by 8).  I was using little strips  of tape 1 1/2″ long, as I picked a 12″ board grid (a nice size).  At first H.W. made a little template and supplied me with endless little strips, but these pictures show me cutting directly off the roll because the supply of strips dried up when he started to take pictures.


I placed the “bottom” strip for each black square, following my lines, and then came back and placed the “top” strip, and then made a third pass to cover the little strip between the first two strips.




It looks really good.  Better than I expected.  The texture of the wood shows through the tape, wiping it off hasn’t been a problem, and if the bits of tape start to peel off, or if it needs some renewal, well, I know how to fix that.  If we get sick of it, or the Queen comes to dinner, we can just peel it off.


The set of pieces I made in my teens for an art class assignment, miraculously surviving decades intact.  I adore them for their slightly off-kilter imperfections, yet how clearly I managed to get it right-every piece is simple yet distinctly itself and the right relative height, and a nice playing size.

Also I remember how I thought at the time that creating 32 chessmen in 6 different iterations was an afterthought to the (terribly creative, artistic-and now useless) chessboard sculpture itself, and probably left that aspect to the night before it was due.  I was gluing and staining and varnishing well into the night.

Now they are getting trotted out frequently thanks to the new table chessboard, and we are glad to not be playing with this ersatz setup (“No, the checker with the domino on top is a rook.  The ones with the sticks are knights, like lances, see?”)




Happiness Jar

When I saw this on Facebook I loved it and immediately shared it, saying “So doing it!”.  I didn’t immediately do it, though, knowing that it would be there on my FB so I couldn’t forget.

Then I was in my friend’s kitchen and she proudly showed me her fancy happiness jar on the kitchen table.  Not only that, she described how she had shared my share, and some of her FB friends had enthusiastically announced they’d made theirs before she had.  Uhoh, she thought, I have to get mine in action, I posted it and they’ve already done it.  That made me feel a little more queasy, as I hadn’t done it yet, and there were already certainly two degrees, possibly three, of enactment already sparked from my post.

Well, it’s done now, and we had several slips to top it up with from the first month of this year.

I love this idea because it has multiple elements of happiness-causing behavior.  It creates a tradition, creates a handy year-in-review memorabilia, and amplifies happiness by creating (at least) two chances to recollect the happy event: in the writing it down and the year-end reading.  The slips can all be stuck on something, laminated, reduced on a photocopier, or photographed to make something artistic and lasting yet small.  Brilliant!

Here's mine
Here’s mine


Little notebooks, little notebooks…


I made some little notebooks.  All paper salvaged from an office recycling, cut to fit with little cardstock images I found graphic and entertaining – a flight safety pamphlet (no, I didn’t remove it from the seatback pocket), the cover of an antique trashy paperback, postcards, and bits from calendars.

In theory it would be a good way to add value to paper and saved images, but it took rather forever to cut little stacks of paper to fit and match up some attractive front and back covers.

After I had them all ready to bind, I took them to my neighborhood copy store that smells like toner.  I wanted the spiral coil binding, but that required sending them away and waiting for days, so I accepted the Cerlox binding they could do immediately.

Voila, little notebooks!