Crafty Summer Part 2: DIY Marquee Letters

DIY Marquee Letters

I can’t even say a full sentence in this blog post before I give a shout out to the blog they look like the cutest couple, I absolutely love reading their blog and they were my inspiration and my direction for this project. I mean look at this picture!

DIY Marquee Letters -

So I saw this and I was so excited about how much I loved the marquee letters so I shared it immediately with my niece Molly who was getting married soon. I said, “OMG you must make these for your wedding!” She replied something along the lines of – that is so cute, I would do M & M though. To which I replied, “the directions are right there but it looks sort of hard.” To which she smartly replied something along the lines of – yeah that looks too difficult, cute idea though.

I say smartly because she assessed the situation perfectly, this was far too difficult let’s just do something else. Since “too difficult” isn’t in my vocabulary I thought, “well I’ll do it for her then.”

So the blog outlines every step of the process and it is in four parts starting here:

Now there are a few steps that I did differently for better or for worse and that is what I will outline here.

First of all, instead of saying LOVE I went with M & M, look at that ampersand! They cut their letters out themselves, we wouldn’t be able to do that with that “&” so I found someone who could cut them out for me. He printed the font I wanted which was “underground” on a vinyl sticker.

DIY Marquee Letters-WPWW

Then placed the vinyl sticker on the plywood and cut it out with a skill saw (I believe, I missed that part)

Then he primed them and they came to me.

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So the first thing I had to do was figure out where we wanted the holes and how many holes. The light strings we were using had 25 on each and we wanted more than 8 or so lights on each letter so we decided to use two light strands. Notice the subtle difference in tone? It is no longer I did this and that. Suddenly this has become a two person project. My husband had to help me. I realized I was way over my head the second the marquee letters arrived at our house. I mean how was I going to drill those holes?!

So first things first, find the middle of every point on the letter. I drew a line down the middle of every part of all the letters.

DIY Marquee Letters-WPWW2





You will notice me using sewing tools while doing any craft project. I used this to find the middle.

DIY Marquee Letters-WPWW3

Next I counted out 50 poker chips. They were about the right size and I knew they would help me estimate where each light bulb should go. Yes, I do think outside the box!

DIY Marquee Letters-WPWW4

DIY Marquee Letters-WPWW5


I measured each one so they were equally spaced and then I put marks under each one that would tell Jake where to center the drill bit. I put the poker chips down over and over on the ampersand. I don’t even know if this picture is the final choice.



The next task was finding the right drill bit. We did some test runs but for us the correct size was between two of the bits. So we went with the smaller one. Next time I would go with the large and just paint the inside of the holes. That would have made later steps a lot easier.

Jake drilled all the holes. Then I filled some of the grooves and rough spots that you can see on the previous pictures with wood putty. I wasn’t really going with too rustic of look and it smoothed it out just enough.  Then I painted the letters a buttery/lemony yellow so it would have a warm glow like this Pinterest find:

DIY Marquee Letters - WPWW 6


Then came the impossible… the metal around the edges. Evan and Katelyn (don’t forget I’m living on their every word) had used 6″ aluminum siding. Not so sure we shouldn’t have tried to use that too. We went with this:

DIY Marquee Letter -WPWW 73 inch zinc for roofing

It was more malleable than the aluminum so it wouldn’t be impossible on the ampersand.

There are no pictures of this next part because we were both intensely involved. Jake used an air compressor with staples and stapled the zinc all around the outside edge. We left about 3/4″ behind the letter to cover the wires when it hangs on a wall.

DIY Marquee Letters - WPWW 8

The metal is pretty soft, so from here on out we had to be super careful when working with the letters.

After all the metal was stapled on, we needed to put the lights through. Well, when I painted, the holes got far too small so I had to redrill the holes and yes, I did manage to redrill all of the holes all by myself!

Then I tried to put the lights through again and they were still just a tiny bit too big for the holes. So I used a razor blade/Exacto knife and I shaved down the light just a little bit. I also cut back that clip. I still left part of it because it needed to help clip all the excess wires down in back. Each light ended up fitting snuggly. It did take all day though. Remember there were 50 LIGHTS!!!!

DIY Marquee Letter - WPWW 9

I placed each light base in it’s hole while I was shaving them.

DIY Marquee Letter - WPWW 10

Luckily Wyatt took a nap on this day!

All the lights were connected, I clipped all the excess wires into the light base clips. I used some of Evan and Katelyn’s ideas of skipping holes and going back through. I did this so I wouldn’t end up with a bunch of excess loops of wires. The three letters are permanently connected to each other so it makes them a little hard to move but other than that I was really pleased with how they turned out.


Those foam toy blocks were nice to lay the letters on while I worked on putting the lights in, that way there wasn’t too much weight on the metal.


Finally the big reveal! They were so excited to get them and they surprised me by having them be a focal point of the wedding decor!


Andie Avery Photography was amazing!

You can even see it in the first seconds of the sneak peek of the wedding video! Jay McKenney is also amazing!

So there you have it my second project of the summer. DIY Marquee Letters!


Crafty Summer Part 1: Polar Fleece Rag Doll

So every summer I binge on the crafting that I can’t do the rest of the year while I teach. Several people wanted to know how I did a few of those crafts so over the course of the next few posts I will share some of these crafts!

The first project was a doll for Wyatt’s best friend Lillie. She was about to have a baby brother and I knew she would want to get in on the action and care for a baby as well. I was just going to go to Walmart to buy a little baby doll when I discovered that Walmart thinks all babies born are blonde haired and blue eyed. Well, Oliver was not going to look like that so I decided I better take the logical next step and make her a doll.

I chose to work with polar fleece which was the best decision I’ve ever made and I’m really shocked that more people don’t use polar fleece for doll creating. It is soft, comes in a variety of colors, the material doesn’t fray, and is super easy to work with.

Size was the first thing I need to workout. I decided that if the doll fit preemie clothes that would be easy. I wouldn’t have to make clothes, I could just buy preemie clothes. Bam done! Well not so fast. I bought a preemie sleeper and then tried to figure out what size doll could fit. I measured and did all sorts of things and then decided to go a very strange route that worked.

I drew a quick silhouette of the sleeper on a piece of cardboard, it happened to be a Nike shoe box. Then I eyeballed how long the arms and legs were and bent them, not physically I just redrew it right over the top with bent arms. I really should have taken pictures of this part of the process! I kept redrawing and redrawing until I thought it looked about right. I then cut out the cardboard and tried to put the sleeper on it. It was too tight so I cut a bit here and a bit there and tried it on again. The body was too wide. So I cut down the middle, overlapped the cardboard, taped it back together and tried on the sleeper again. I did this many times until it seemed just right. Then I cut two of the bodies out of the polar fleece.

I then began the face and hair. I used felt to create the eyes. I made the white part almond shaped and decided he would look to one side. I then made little brown circles sewed them together. Then of course I added a little reflection point. I did this with thread just zigzagging back and forth. Polar Fleece Rag Doll  Polar Fleece Rag Doll


Polar Fleece Rag Doll


After I had made the eyes, then I cut out the face which I decided would be an oval. In retrospect I would have made it more of a circle because when I sewed the head to the neck I lost even more height to the oval and I feel like it became too wide without enough height.

I also cut out the hair. This was just a piece of polar fleece that I satin stitched to the face oval. The back of the head was just another of the face ovals with hair almost covering the entire thing. I forgot to take a picture of the back.

Polar Fleece Rag Doll


I then hand sewed the eyes down and the nose and the mouth. I used a technique that Emily shared when we were making a quilt for Granny:

Hand Embroidery

I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I then used a satin stitch and flesh colored thread and attached the head to the body. Then I turned right sides together and used my serger to sew the front to the back leaving the side open. I turned the whole body and stuffed him. Then hand-sewed him up. I love working with polar fleece this part was a breeze!

Polar Fleece Rag Doll

The legs are pretty wide set but they make putting on a diaper so easy for little hands. This is the sleeper I used to create him!

Polar Fleece Rag Doll


After this I made a few diapers just by cutting them out and sewing them right sides together and then sewing velcro on them. Here I am sewing them while illustrating the perils of sewing outside of nap time.



Then I made this carrier using a blog I found on Pinterest.

Here’s the link but I’m also posting the directions in case she ever takes them down Baby Doll Carrier


Baby doll carrier tutorial

While looking for a baby doll carrier tutorial, I came across a couple of rather interesting ones and deconstructed some actual baby carriers. What follows is my own simplified version, which did not have too many buckles, ties and fiddly things for my two year old to deal with. Though it is not rocket science, I thought I would make a more explicit tutorial.

Warning: this is not to be used for a real baby, but for toys only!

Here is the template as pdf. From the printout, cut on the outer edge of the pattern. Once you have cut out your template, add an extra 1/4 inch all around when you cut the fabric. Sew with a 1/4 inch seam.

Materials needed:
This of course depends on the size of the doll and the size of the child. Adapt accordingly when drawing your template, so that you can have a better idea as to how much fabric you will need.
In this instance the doll is 12″ (30 cm) from top to toe and is 4″ (10 cm) around the belly. The child is an average two year old.

  • 2 pieces of cotton fabric 10″ (25 cm) x 13″ (33 cm) for body
  • 1 piece of cotton batting also 10″(25 cm) x 13″ (33 cm) for body
  • 2 strips of cotton fabric 27″ (69 cm) long and 4″ (10 cm) wide for straps
  • 4 buttons
Here is the template I drew up inspired by a well known baby carrier and others out there. You can see the proportion compared with the dolly. In this instance, the template measures 8,5″ (22 cm) across at its largest and 3,5″ (9 cm) at the bottom of the tail. The length is 11″ (28 cm).
There are three layers here starting from the top: the exterior decorative and the interior prints right sides facing each other and finally the cotton batting. Polyester batting would probably work just as well or even some denim – anything to stiffen it up a bit. Sew around, but leave openings for the straps that will be added in the next step. There are three openings. If you think of this template as a fish, then you would not sew the bottom part of the “eyes” and the end of the “tail”.
If you will notice the pins on the bottom of the carrier and almost on the top – this is where I left openings to insert the straps.
You will need two straps, which in this case measure 27″ (69 cm) long and around 1,5″ (4 cm) – 2″ (5 cm) wide finished. Simply cut a long strip with the appropriate length,  but 4″ (10 cm) wide and fold it lengthwise with the print facing in. Sew down all the way, pull it right side out and top-stitch up and down to strengthen a bit. Since my daughter is still rather small, I inserted the straps so that there is still some length of strap to pull out when she grows bigger.
Here you can see how there is a flap on the top that is to be the optional head support for the doll. Kindly note that this section is not to be attached to the straps in any way.
On the back, the straps are criss-crossing. Please make sure that the straps are not twisted before pinning and sewing.
After top-stitching all around, including the strap openings, I made two button holes in the head flap and sewed four buttons so that the flap can be kept down …
… or up. The button holes should fall nicely on both the straps and the bodice, so that they will catch both pairs of buttons. Check this before making the button holes.
The carrier is put on over the head, which does require some assistance for the little one. But once on, it is all hands free carrying.
Here is the carrier with the flap down
And here it is with the flap up to support the doll’s head.
Big brother got a bit jealous because he thought his sister got a pretty nifty toy. Perhaps another one needs to be made for my son and his trusty pal Paddington.
Next item in this project – bibs.
Have a nifty day!

PS: Feed-back on this tute are very welcome. Thanks in advance.



Here he is in his cute little carrier!

Polar Fleece Rag Doll






Test- Let’s see if the twitter plugin works

There was a request for twitter updates when blogs are posted so we know when to check the blog. Emily installed a plug in… broke the website and Tom fixed it!

Now, when you post, there’a an automatic update that pushes to the twitter account. I tried to follow the entire family… but may have missed a couple. Follow the account back and I’ll follow you! Great idea!!

I’m With Her

I’m not a really responsible music consumer these days. Mostly, I just let top 40 take me away and over 50% of what I listen to these days in the 1989 Taylor Swift album (its one of 3 albums have downloaded on my iPhone) so when I get really into a new music group its like I’m eating Nutella for the  first time in my life, I have a really hard time controlling myself and just gorge on it and find any vehicle to consume.

I’m With Her is my current Nutella.

Here’s how it starts, Sarah Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan were hanging out at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival (bucket list) and played some tunes together. Then they were like “that was fun, right? let’s keep doing that” Yes. Please.


Omg, thats fantastic, right? If it hasn’t clicked (or you don’t follow these women) here’s a little bit about them:

  • Sarah Watkins played fiddle and sang in Nickle Creek and the past couple years has been hanging out with Garrison Keillor and touring with Prairie Home Companion.
  • Sarah Jarosz has an impressive solo career,  sings, plays the mandolin and banjo and is touring with Garrison Keillor on the Prairie Home Companion tour this summer.
  • Aoife O’Donovan is the lead singer of Crooked Still and makes occasional appearances on Prairie Home Companion.

These are just a bunch of really talented and amazing women and I really hope this group sticks together and are around for a while. Also, they clearly keep good company in hanging out together and with Garrison.

Right now the only way to listen to their music is by buying their vinyl record or attending one of their shows. Actually Sarah Jarosz and Garrison are 2 miles from me performing in Utah tonight, but I didn’t get tickets :'( For now, you can binge on YouTube with me until their actual album (hopefully) and a proper US tour happens one day.

Easy Cheesecake

Disclaimer: this is my mother’s recipe.

This recipe is so easy and  so delicious. Its should be a staple in everyone’s recipe files (I guess that’s Pinterest these days).

8 oz whipped topping (cool whip)
8 oz cream cheese
1/3 c sugar
1 Graham Cracker Crust
21 oz cherry pie filling (blueberry or other berries works well

Whip cream cheese & sugar, then add the whipped topping
Put your white mixture in the graham cracker crust (refrigerate if you have the time)
Pour cherry pie over the top then serve immediately

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Theme Week(s): Michael on Podcasts

My favorites are My Brother, My Brother, and Me and Stuff You Should Know.

I won’t give you an explanation for “MBMBAM” because it’s much more fun to start listening without an explanation (it’s hilarious). “Stuff…” is just a couple of smart guys who dig as deep as they can into a particular topic and present everything they were able to find about it (very informative).

The Daisy Buchanan

This is a delicious cocktail my father in law recently made. I’m mostly posting this here so I can pin it and reference the recipe later, I would recommend you all do the same and eventually enjoy one yourself!
This is the recipe for 2 drinks:
1 oz Gin
2 oz St. Germaine
1/2 oz simple syrup
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Put all ingredients in martini shaker with ice. Shake and strain. Pour into two martini glasses.  Float the top with champagne.  If you are fancy you can put a curlicue of lemon peel in the glass.
The hardest part of this drink is it takes just a little bit of champagne, I recommend  getting tiny bottles of champagne for this recipe.


Theme Week: Emily on Podcasts

I really like podcasts, here’s what I listen to:

This American LifeI think all our blog readers here are on board with TAL. My favorite episode is A Little Bit of Knowledge.

Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin: Alec talks with artists and policy makers. I really like his style, it really feels more like a conversation and not so much like an interview. I especially like the episode when he interviews Rosie O’Donnell; they both grew up similarly in large Catholic families in Long Island, I really liked the conversation. Also, Lorne Michaels is a great episode The nice thing is Alec’s guests are never promoting anything when they are on the show so it feels authentic.

On the MediaBrooke Gladstone is just amazing. I think we can all agree that the media is very sensationalized and driven by ratings instead of the actual news. Brooke and her team do a great job of helping us understand what is actually going on with the current media in a compelling manner that has helped me better weed my way through the news and media.

If you want to keep following the story from season one, follow Rabia on twitter, warning this girl knows how to RT and will fill up your feed.

The Moth & Snap Judgement: To me, these are like supplements for TAL. The three swap stories sometimes and are all similarly about storytelling. The Month is live stories told without notes and Snap Judgement is storytelling with a beat. Sometimes I can get lost in Snap (not engrossed, but literally lost), but its good if you are sewing/driving and want something to listen to. I really like the Moth and am really excited to go to The Bee: True Stories from the Hive locally tonight!

Making It with Riki LindhomeI love Garfunkle and Oats the comedy duo. This podcast is Riki (the blonde) speaking with other comedians about how they started out. Its a pretty interesting conversation with a couple funny people. I also feel like I could be friends with Riki and Kate, so this podcast makes me feel like I’m making progress on that friendship.

StartUpThis is about new companies. The first season was about the company behind the podcast (Gimlet Media) and their journey through starting a company. Alex Blumberg from TAL & Planet Money is the host the first season and the founder of the company. Its super interesting, especially since Gimlet Media has created two other amazing podcasts, Reply All & Mystery Show.

Reply All: A podcast about the internet. I like internet culture and these guys do a great job of providing the human element of an internet phenomenon or internet history. This is in my top 3 favorites.

Mystery ShowThis is my favorite right now. Starlee Kine (yes, previous TAL contributor) just solves mysteries that can’t be solved using just the internet. The best part, she has the same sort of training as me, nothing. She is adorable and I really want to be her friend. I am really sad that the first season just finished. My favorite episode is Starlee solving question of Jake Gyllenhaal’s height, this is harder than you may think.


Podcasts I don’t listen to every week, but have occasionally enjoyed:

99% Invisible: Roman Mars has an incredible voice and once did a story on the PDX Carpet. The show is about design.

Stuff You Should Know: This is a great podcast to fall asleep to.

The Heart: This is edgy and interesting story about relationships and intimacy.

Invisibilia: NPR’s current darling podcast. I didn’t get into it until the first season was over, so I feel like an outsider on this podcast.

Theme Week: Let’s Talk About It

So when I started thinking about which podcasts I wanted to write about I started looking at my list on Stitcher (an app I highly recommend for keeping track of and listening to all your podcasts) but my list is kind of long. Then I thought about which podcasts I think are the best. How can you rate podcasts though? Each one (on my list) has value in and of its own right.

Hmmm… I guess in my mind the podcasts that stand out are the ones that creep into my conversations. If I just listen to it and enjoy it that is one thing but if I feel compelled to share it with, well, EVERYONE that is an entirely new level. So here are the podcasts that I’m constantly talking about.

Everyone I talk to is probably tired of hearing everything about this show. I’ve heard criticisms that it is a little overproduced or over-edited and I can see that but wow, the content blows my mind every single week. I can’t even define exactly what this show is all about but here are some recent topics that have entered into conversations:
-In Cuba, there were some young people that started injecting themselves with AIDS so that they could play rock music. Los Frikis
-In Oregon, there was a family killed by a Japanese bomb that floated over from Japan on a parachute. Fu-Go
-There is technology out there to catch EVERY criminal and it’s been tried out in a few places but people generally aren’t willing to allow it in their town. Eye in the Sky

Note to Self
That last Radiolab episode I listed got me listening to a new favorite of mine Note to Self. It is all about how technology is affecting the lives of everyone and how it is changing the way we live for better or for worse. A few recent topics:
Wevorce- a way to divorce over Skype and actually it is a way more personal and pleasant experience.
Online Shopping – how are they manipulating us?

This American Life
Do I need to say anything? This show has shaped my life but also seems like such a part of life itself it needs no explanation. When has water been listed on the menu as an option of what to drink?

Snap Judgement
I dare you to try to turn off the podcast in the midst of the Glynn Washington storytelling that opens the show. Impossible! I am always stopped in my tracks holding my breath, he is a master story teller. If you want great compelling stories told in amazing ways this is your show. Just in the last show:
A gay man is in China illegally interviewing very powerful rich men and gets taken to a whore house as an honored guest.
A women adores Bill Clinton yet somehow messes up every time she gets a chance to meet him until she meets him while at a bachelorette party in Vegas.
A young student arrives at UCLA on a partial scholarship, oh oops that means they don’t cover room and board…

So next time I’m talking to you and I look like I’m only half listening, yes, I AM trying to find a way to fit “this one thing that I heard on a podcast last week that I’m dying to talk about” into our conversation. If you happen to mention HIV you know we’re going to talk about Cuba.

Podcast suggestion

I would recommend some of the podcasts by Rev. Dr. Spitzer, if you are into science, philosophy, and theology (and especially if you are interested in the interconnection of all three together).  Among his works is a 12-part podcast series called “God and Modern Physics.”  I haven’t been able to get too into it because of work and school, but what I have heard I have found interesting and enlightening — maybe you will too!

Sorry, I have not been able to figure out how to obtain his podcasts in downloadable format, I have only found where you can stream the podcasts.