Mag's Free How-to Videos!

 

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ToolGirl's online How-To Videos

 

 

 

 

Zander and MagFree plans for kids!

In partnership with Lowe's Canada, Ruffman Entertainment has produced a video series of fun, colourful projects that families can build together

Each 3-5 minute episode is accompanied by downloadable step-by-step instructions loaded with extra tips and mini-lessons, so even if parents aren't experienced in building, they can learn alongside their kids!  

 


How to Make a DIY Meditation Fountain

Some of us tend to forget what we’ve accomplished in our lifetimes and we find ourselves feeling like we’ve never done anything meaningful, useful or worthwhile.

Some of us may even go through low spots when we feel that our lives haven’t had any validity.

But when we express that to friends, they're aghast, because that’s not their sense at all. They may think we’re highly accomplished, but we feel like impostors.

So, after a couple of years of feeling that way, I decided to start questioning that belief. Just for a few days.

And in that few days I looked back at all the things I’ve done and you know what? Just scrolling through the ridiculous number of things I’ve made, tried to make, or failed to make, I felt better.

Here’s an example: Episode 1 of Anything I Can Do – “Fountain Do” – how to make a meditation fountain. It was my first day on set with this show (early 2000) and I was giddy to the point of hysteria. But it was kinda fun. And I got to shoot the show on the same farm we used when we shot Road to Avonlea. Such beauty and happy memories. 

 

And if by some chance DIY isn't your thang, here's Episode #1 of my relationship show, Men On Women, which aired in Canada in 2000-2001. 

Topics:

  • Detecting attraction 
  • When a guy says "I'll call you" after a date, how long does a girl wait for him to call before she knows he was fibbing? And do women ever say "I'll call you" and not call?
  • Call from viewer: Why do guys make a distinction between a woman they'd want to marry and a woman who they want to fool around with?
  • Breast implants
  • Manly Moments: Kissing on a first date
  • Physical affection parameters
  • Rushing or not rushing a relationship
  • Audience question: On a first date, how do you know when you're not interested in a girl, and how do you let her know?
  • Relationships in art

 


Using your hands helps your brain and increases well-being

  • Crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain, experts say
  • It may also ease stress, increase happiness by releasing neurotransmitter called dopamine
  • Leisure activities such as reading and crafting may protect brain from aging, study finds

via www.cnn.com

I abandoned my blog over a year ago. In a sense I abandoned myself, because my self was in a weird downward spiral.

When you can't pull up out of a gnarly place, sometimes it's better to not pay attention to your own thought processes.

Knitting got me through the last 18 months, which featured abrupt changes of fortune and emotional lows.

Recent neurological research shows that creating something - anything - interrupts negative emotional loops that can keep us stuck. Knitting helped me release stress and I'm certain that it prevented me from crashing into depression. I didn't quite have the heart for woodworking, welding or more challenging hobbies. But the soft, cozy yarn and the quiet click of my needles seemed to be the perfect tonic.

The CNN article above documents how others have experienced emotional healing through crafting. Maybe you'd like to share your own experience in the comments below. Or maybe just read the article and take comfort in knowing that there's an inexpensive, gentle solution waiting for you if you're in a dark time.

Hand knit socks - ToolGirl Mag Ruffman
One pair of more than 40 sets of socks I've knitted in the last year

Upcycling - ideas to spike your creativity

If you're the type of person who gets fidgety while riding in the passenger seat of a car for prolonged periods of, say, 5-10 minutes, you may need to work with your hands to modulate your nervous energy. 

Crocheting bird feeders out of 40-pound test fishing line is satisfying and productive. Whittling is an effective way to build up your supply of tinder for the winter, and the pile of wood shavings under your feet will keep your toes warm on long winter drives.

Or you can turn to your smartphone for solace and revel in arty/crafty/hacky/buildy project tutorials and start plotting your next DIY attempt.  

If you're naturally frugal with a sideways imagination you might enjoy the incredible range of human ingenuity I've collected in my Upcycling board on Pinterest.  

Who wouldn't want to make a combination candle/TP holder from scrap lumber and steel pipe?

Upcycled toilet paper holder

Or make a bench from an old bed headboard/footboard...

Upcycled bench from bed headboard

Or build a side table out of cut-offs...

Stylish-diy-stools-made-of-wood-scraps-1

Is there any human who doesn't like to make new stuff out of old stuff?  I haven't met one yet.


Drool inducing unputdownable book for DIYers

This just landed on my Christmas list with a big gorgeous thud.  Kevin Kelly has been blogging about inventive gadgets and devices for as long as I've had a computer, and he's finally produced a compendium of his faves.  Don't put this book in the bathroom or you'll have a bum ring from sitting there far longer than necessary imagining all of the things you can do/build/make/share/hack. Glory tool-e-lujah, baby.

 


Christmas Tree Alternatives - why go traditional when your tree can scream quirkiness?

Things change in an average life and for some of us, that means hanging on to time-honoured traditions, like our Christmas tree style, with renewed tenacity. For others, it means jettisoning the familiar in an effort to redefine ourselves and acknowledge change.  For the latter group, here are a few suggestions for kicking up the festive while maximizing the restive. 

A driftwood Christmas tree...

 

Driftwood tree
http://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/111943107/tree-decoration-driftwood?ref=sr_gallery_10&ga_search_query=christmas+tree&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=all&ga_facet=christmas+tree


 

A homemade scrapwood Christmas tree...

 

Scrapwood tree
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/woodwoolstool/5279640941/


 

A wall Christmas tree made from treasured ornaments...

 

Ornament wall tree
Source: http://nicety.livejournal.com/1013907.html


 

Another wall tree...

 

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Source: http://weheartit.com/entry/37853446

 

A cardboard Christmas tree...

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And of course, you can always create a DIY tree with used spindles, although one of my readers complained last year that it was god-awful and 'what was I thinking?'.  Of course, if you're a died-in-the-wool non-traditionalist, you're used to hearing that.  

What about you?  Any searingly unique tree installations to share?


Lowe's Family Fun Projects - Tween Projects

Tweens are hugely creative and we've been having a blast shooting new episodes featuring their designs - here are a few:

Zoe (12) and her swinging treehouse lounger

Lowe's Family Fun Projects - treehouse swinging bed

Ella (9) and her climbing net

Lowe's Family Fun Projects - climbing net

Lucas and Kevin (11) with the chalkboard desk they built (steel pipe base)

Lowe's Family Fun Projects - chalkboard desk with steel base

We'll be posting tween episodes on Lowe's Canada in time for the Christmas break - check out our other kids' projects (ages 3+) if you ever find yourself stuck indoors with rowdy kids!   


Onward

I've been caught up in a number of eyebrow-blowing-off experiences lately.  

First, my talk at TEDxWaterloo at the end of March.  It consumed me.  I've never worked harder on anything, yet I still made crucial mistakes, which have driven me crazy for more than 2 months. Until this morning, when I realized that our mistakes become our future strengths so I should respect my mistakes, not revile them.

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I also started work on a new season of Lowe's Family Fun Projects.  This year we're working with Tweens. The kids have lots of cool design ideas (headboards, WarHammer terrains, treehouse upgrades). It's going to be amazing to watch them work with their hands. 

Zoe and Ella
Zoe (12) and Ella (9)


I've been experimenting with getting some cool finishes on furniture.  Here's one of them:

Textured marbled effect using Annie Sloan chalk paint
Marbling effect

And here's another:

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A finish I call, "Layered as an old fishing boat"


I made sheers after the blinds fell apart (employing doorknobs from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore)

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Daniel's leg-slinging ladder stylings


Kicked off the 2013 Habitat for Humanity WomenBuild. Want to join me in September?  

Mag Ruffman and Tina Holmes
With fellow WomenBuild ambassador Tina Holmes


Walked a lot.  (shades of Avonlea)

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And traveled to Saskatoon and Vancouver for Skills Canada's provincial and national competitions.  More on that this week from Vancouver with the adorable Mike Holmes.

Mag Ruffman at Saskatchewan Skills Competition, 2013, photo by stobbephoto.ca
Photo by Dave Stobbe, stobbephoto.ca


 

 

 


How to make a tinned picture frame

This week's free ToolGirl How-to video gives you a billion options for bone-easy handmade gifts.  You'll learn to frame any two-dimensional item using inexpensive materials and a soldering iron...

How To Make A Tinned Picture Frame  - step by step instructions


Got the winter blues? Let your fingers do the therapy!

 

the plight of un-busy hands
Photo credit: chris@APL via Flickr

 

If this crisp cold snap is making you frantic and testy, your hands can calm you down and put you in The Zone where time ceases to exist, all problems turn to vapor, and Winter is just a word that applies to some other part of the world. Here's my curated list of places to find craft instruction online.

Now, if you want a truly in-depth course from a world-class instructor at a fraction of the cost ($20-$40) you'd pay to take the course in person, here's a closer look at my favourite online learning resource, Craftsy.com: (Correction to article: Craftsy won't be offering 'food tech' in 2013, but they will be offering food and cooking courses)

Craftsy offers fantastic classes that show you in REAL time (not fast-forward-big-reveal TV style) how to actually DO something.  Grab a cup of coffee and peruse your options for learning how to quilt, weave, sew, crochet, knit, decorate cakes, cook, garden, and even re-finish furniture. TIP: When you're scrolling through Craftsy's Featured Classes, you can click on any of the Free Mini-Classes for a taste of the instructor's style and content.  

If you don't have a local independent yarn store or craft retailer that offers classes, Craftsy.com is an amazing virtual resource.  You can study anytime, 24/7, talk to the instructor and/or fellow class-mates while the lesson is in progress, record personal notes onscreen, and instantly repeat the last 30 seconds of video if you missed something.  

Have fun!

P.S. I'm enrolled in two courses (so far) if you want to join me - Scrap Quilting and From Drab to Fab (upcycling furniture).  

Here are some of my classmates' furniture projects from our Drab to Fab course...cool eh?

Projects from learners