Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Practical Side of 3D Printing

My son has a t–shirt that states:  “Got a problem? Call an engineer.” Poor grammar aside, the t-shirt has a point. With a little bit of math and a 3D printer, you can solve some household problems.

I bought my son a stovetop popcorn popper for Christmas. We’ve since become popcorn aficionados. Our holy grail is kettle corn. The recipe is easy: 1/2 cup popcorn kernels and 1/3 cup white sugar popped together. My husband did the math to determine the volume required for 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup and designed a 3D–printed kettle corn measuring cup.


Just about every friend and relative has asked for a copy, which he easily printed out with his Solidoodle 3D printer.


I have two naughty dachshunds who must be confined when we leave for longer than an hour. Oh, the destruction! We’d been using a baby gate, which was deteriorating, to confine the “kids.” Since this issue is ongoing, my husband built a gate and 3D–printed custom latches to hold the gate open and closed.




This past Spring, someone tried to steal our beat–up car from a parking lot. The thief used a screwdriver to pop the locks into the door panels, which can lower the power windows if done correctly. In our case, the thief didn’t get what he came for, but we had holes where our car locks once were. Since we can still use our key fob, we used the 3D printer to make hole covers for the doors.


One leaky permanent marker later, the plugs are virtually unnoticeable.


The key to designing your own 3D objects is to use a digital caliper to make accurate measurements. We use the free version of SketchUp to build models. It sounds more intimidating than it is. You can get a digital caliper for about $20 from Harbor Freight.

YouTube is full of video tutorials for SketchUp.

Is it possible to build 3D models when you aren’t comfortable with math? My daughter (art student) bought herself digital calipers, learned enough SketchUp to be dangerous, and 3D printed a broken internal part for her Nerf® gun. The part worked, and her foam darts flew again.

My husband designed a multipart phone stand for his Nokia 920, which all his geek friends love. He’s printed out many phone stands to give away in his technical talks.


I am working on an idea for bud vases. I am going to rely on my husband’s experience with SketchUp, but I’m going to give the designing a try.

What household solutions could you 3D print?



Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Caulk When You Have No Idea How

The Hub and I have decided to get the house ready to sell. We’re not actually selling (we hope). With the plethora of houses for sale around us, we’ve been watching the neighbors scurry like ants to make their houses move–in ready. We figure we ought to make our house move–in ready for us. Why do all that hard work and let someone else enjoy the benefits?

We started with the seal around the windows. Exciting, yes? Especially the scraping of the old caulk part. It’s a disgusting, sweaty but necessary job. Gaps between the window and frame can lead to air leaks and allow insects to enter your home.

Our caulk was completely cracked away. Since my husband is banned from caulking due to his extreme messiness (he goes for functionality), I took it upon myself to learn how to use a caulking gun.

Conquer your caulk gun fears.

Thanks to YouTube, every window is ready for winter. The tip about the release tab is gold. I’m now watching concrete repair videos. The Hub is permanently banned from all repairs that require finesse.

The dining room is next on the list with all its doorway cracks that I’ve fixed only twice before. I’ve also watched proper crack repair videos too, so those suckers are going down!

What big home repairs are you making this summer?



Friday, August 9, 2013

Craft Book Challenge: Homemade Chocolate Syrup

Hi. I’ve been gone for awhile. Call it an extended battery recharge.

I haven’t been posting, but I’ve been doing all sorts of projects and taking pictures and writing posts in my head. And eating homemade ice cream. It is summer, so it’s allowed.


So, I’m calling this one a Craft Book Challenge. Check it out. I have the souvenir edition of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. Woohoo! Worth a million dollars, right? Naw, it’s probably found in every thrift store in the nation. This one I inherited from my mother when she was cleaning  her kitchen.


I love vintage books, so I snapped it up. My mother must have gotten it as a wedding gift because it was published in 1965.


It’s worth picking up if you spot a copy at the thrift store if just for the chocolate syrup recipe.


So proudly eat that homemade ice cream in the homemade waffle bowl with that delicious homemade chocolate syrup on top.


I know I will.



Monday, August 5, 2013

Finding myself in the dress–up box

My favorite game as a kid was dress up. My neighbor had a box of shiny gowns, and we’d cajole our little brothers into donning a gown or two so we had enough players for the scenarios we’d dream up.

Back at my house, we didn’t have the dresses, but my mom let me play with her costume jewelry. We’d wrap blankets around our torsos and just drip with jewels.


I always thought it was important for my kids to have a dress–up box. Both my son and daughter relished the jedi robes, karate belts, and baseball uniforms in their box. For my daughter, she found the same joy in my mother’s old costume jewelry as I had. My husband contributed his mother’s old elastic cocktail rings to the cache of jewels.


We added Halloween costumes throughout the years. My personal favorite was my son’s Burger King robe complete with creepy King mask. Whatever my kids wanted to be, they found pieces to complete their wardrobes in the dress–up box.

My kids have outgrown their box of dress–up clothes, and I have re–inherited the box of jewels. I’m still fascinated with the old costume jewelry. I remember draping the bejeweled necklace atop my head as a crown, my blanket dress swishing about my ankles. I’d really like to find a reason to wear the princess earrings now.


I recently acquired my paternal grandmother’s fake pearls. And the enameled daisy belonged to my maternal grandmother. The other bits and bobs have come to me through my mother’s old jewelry box. I do wear the pieces when the occasion calls.


I think it’s important for adults to have dress–up boxes too. We struggle with who we are and who we think we should be. Why can’t we try on different clothes and try different things? Why not try on the jedi robe or wear the princess crown? If the items don’t fit, put them back in the box until you do need them.

I’ve been struggling with what to do with this blog and what to do with my life now that I’m done homeschooling my kids. Suzy Cucumber is now my dress–up box where I can try all the junk I want to try, wear all the hats and gowns and jewels I want to. And in the process, I going to find the outfit I’m meant to wear.

Meanwhile, I’m going to wear the princess earrings while I spackle my dining room. It’s a start.