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December 2007

December 10, 2007

Anything I Can Do - Free Plans

Hammer_and_blue_box_in_workshop_300 If you're looking for projects from Anything I Can Do, we HAVE THEM!!

All you need to do to access ALL of the free plans from my TV show Anything I Can Do is visit our PLANS PAGE - we've got free plans for a garden bench, a copper trellis, an easy bookshelf, a storage shed, a cookbook holder, a room divider, a simple tray bird feeder, a hope chest,  a primitive candle sconce, a Japanese garden lantern, a tin headboard, a serving tray, a harvest table for the dining room, a butcher block cart for the kitchen, a cedar utility table, a potting bench, a rustic twig bench, a basic bird house, a plywood storage container, an English plate rack, bathroom shelves, a garden basket, a kids' activity table, a Harry Potter style mirror frame, an easy go cart, kids' furniture, a copper lamp, embossed copper switch plates and decor, lightweight concrete garden pots (hypertufa), a plaster cherub sconce, a concrete and stained glass stepping stone, a mosaic shelf, a carved coat rack, a clock, a cutting board, a leather tool belt, an indoor/outdoor fountain, a cold frame, a wine rack, a bathtub tray...I could go on, but why not just pick your favourite project and download the PDF?

December 08, 2007

How to prevent break-ins and burglaries this Christmas Season

In researching my recent article on cheque washing, I called B.C. locksmith Frank Fourchalk to ask him for some pointers.  Frank is a crusader for improved home security and often speaks to police associations, writes articles and sponsors events to boost security awareness for homeowners and businesses. 

As we talked about some of the raging scams currently plaguing anyone with a door, I thought you'd like to hear about the most jaw-dropping one!

So in this post, Frank shares insider tips on a phenomenon called 'lock bumping', which easily and quickly disables the cylinders on most North American entry locks and allows a thief instant access. Frank also gives us some DIY tips for making your entry door 'bump-proof'.  Thanks, Frank.  You da man.

P.S.  While we were talking Frank had me search You Tube for 'lock bumping' to see the phenomenon for myself.  Yikes! 


Frank_fourchalk_headshot By Frank Fourchalk
For those of you who have not heard the term, "Lock Bumping", let me explain. This is a lock-picking technique for opening pin tumbler locks (used on most North American homes). This procedure is done by altering a key to gain access to many locks of the same type. 

Should you be concerned?

Continue reading "How to prevent break-ins and burglaries this Christmas Season" »

How to Applique Candles with Flowers and Other Stuff

032_pressed_flowers_appliqued_onto_ There's something about a homemade gift.  And let's just leave it at that.

But sometimes, they can turn out okay. 

One gift that's inexpensive and easy to make is a flower-encrusted candle.   

You can quickly create piles of pressed flowers for this project using a microwave flower press.

P1010344P1010328 If you’re making the candle for a handyperson, appliqué an assortment of screws instead of flowers and create a portable Screwing Emergency Kit.


Continue reading "How to Applique Candles with Flowers and Other Stuff" »

December 07, 2007

Mag's Free Plans and How-to Videos!


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ToolGirl's free project plans

ToolGirl's online How-To Videos

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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 replace a tail or brake bulb in your car

This week's wacked-out ToolGirl video romps like a mad dog through the job of fixing a burned out tail light. (If Mr. Bean ever needed a girlfriend, this would be her.)

Now that you've seen how easy it is to change a tail-light, read Mag's tips on the fine art of selecting the correct bulb for your vehicle.

How to fix a tail light

P1010962_high_resThere are days when your repairs go so well you barely need the beer.

Here’s how to replace a burnt out bulb in the tail light of your car  with zero heartbreak. 

And here's the  Monty Python style video that proves just how easy it is!

First, make a trip to an automotive supply store like Canadian Tire.  Go directly to the hallowed Parts Department (or the Service Department if there’s a line-up at Parts – they both have the same computer database).

Give the attendant the year and model of your vehicle and watch with wonder as he or she rockets through successive screens to come up with the EXACT bulb that your ride requires. Smile in wonder as the nice person offers to write down the number for you. Does it get better than this? Hardly ever.

If, by some freak circumstance, there is no attendant present at either the Parts or Service counters, do not be discouraged. This is just getting GOOD.

Continue reading "How to fix a tail light " »

December 05, 2007

How to Prevent Identity Theft

According to a 2005 Phonebusters study, more and more North Americans get stung every year by identity thieves.  The damages from cheque washing alone add up to about $800 million annually. 

What is cheque washing?

Just another example of human ingenuity.  Identity scammers have some unglamourous techniques such as stealing mail from mailboxes, sorting through it, taking out any cheques and placing them in baths of household chemicals until the ink soaks off the paper fibers.   Then they carefully dry the paper and write themselves a cheque for any amount they like.AfterBefore

<---BEFORE               AFTER--->

If you're concerned about security, the worst pen to use on cheques or important documents is a standard ballpoint pen.  The best pens are gel pens; gel ink is most resistant to water and chemicals. 

Headshot_leonardo_dicaprio Remember the movie Catch Me If You Can where Leonardo DiCaprio plays a guy who talks his way into all kinds of prestigious positions and even has people convinced that he's an airline pilot?  Well that movie is based on the adventures of a real guy named Frank Abagnale.  Frank has recently been retained by the good people at Sanford to help publicize the Uni-ball 207, an inexpensive gel pen that uses ink containing colour pigments, which cannot be removed from paper.  Frank says that the 207 is his favourite Uni-ball, and he should know, even though you may wonder if you can believe him when he says the 207 works great.

Lg_207 That's why I tested the 207 with two well-known ink solvents (rubbing alcohol and acetone).  The 207 actually does work great.  Hardly any ink displacement at all.  Frank Abnagale must be over his fibbing thing.

Moral:  If you're planning to mail cheques, sign legal documents or pledge your undying love in a handwritten sonnet, spend the $3 on a Uni-ball 207.  The comfort grip is nice to hold and the ball-tip floats along over paper with an extremely pleasing glide. I'm a complete pen fanatic so I'm not complimenting this baby lightly.   

Personal Note:  If you're a spiller, as I myself am, this pen means freedom to knock your journal into the toilet, drop your shopping list in a puddle or put your will through the laundry, all without regret.

Uni-ball 207 comes in all the usual colours plus orange, pink and purple, although my office supply store only has it in blue, black and red.  Available in three nib sizes - Bold, Medium and Micro.  More info at secureyoursignature.ca.

December 03, 2007

Installing exterior doors in winter - Arghh.


Our beautiful new doors are finally in but it's too cold outside to seal them properly.   We barely got them in before we had a foot of snow, and all of the stucco repair and caulking has to wait until spring. 

We expected to be able to finish the inside and replace the floor over the winter, but no go.  Why?

Because we've got leaks.  Wind-driven snow and rain is wicking under the sill of the door, so any flooring we might put in now would end up soggy, much the way it was before we replaced the doors.


Here's the leak. It sucks to be a basement.  Actually, nearly all basements are born to suck  just the way ours is doing.

I can explain in juicy detail why some people are choosing not to even put basements in new homes these days.

Continue reading "Installing exterior doors in winter - Arghh." »

December 02, 2007

Pen-turning at Lee Valley

Pen_blank_and_hardware Shaping_up This weekend I took a course at Lee Valley and learned how to turn a chunk of wood and some hardware into a writing implement.

Although I cracked my block of rosewood twice, I just crazy-glued it, clamped it and soldiered forward. 

Drill_pickleSo what if my pen has stress fractures.  It just matches my personality.

IWill_write_for_tools_2 was the slowest one in the class but I finally finished.

Instructor Sandor Mathe was hugely helpful.  Sandor_mathe_coaching_sue_2At right, he coaches participant Sue Mitchell.   Her pen turned out crackless and perfect.     

The Weekend in Photos: Snowman's Land

I need a whole category just for weather. 
We shoveled off the porch roof so it wouldn't get too heavy with the expected rain.

Pine_in_her_knickersIn the meantime, the frost had decorated with lace.


Continue reading "The Weekend in Photos: Snowman's Land" »


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Mag's Books

  • : We're All In This Together

    We're All In This Together
    Based on four years of interviews with Steve Smith, Mag's unconventional biography reveals the personal stories, sorrows and joys that continue to inspire the man behind the Red Green legacy.

  • : How Hard Can It Be?

    How Hard Can It Be?
    Mag's quirky and entertaining book of home improvement projects for beginners.

Nota Bene

  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been. - George Eliot (1819-1880)
  • Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. - My fortune cookie