Monday, January 28, 2013

My First Pinewood Derby

This is the first year my son is in Boys Scouts so needless to say that I am a newbie to everything.  In December, R. received his first pinewood derby car kit.  I looked at the box and thought, "cool! We get to paint a car!" (see the pic of the car on the box).

However, when I emptied the contents, I had my first "moment" (one of many in this process).  "It's a block of wood."  Yeah, that is what I thought.  "You've got to be kidding, right?"  I had no idea what or how to begin so it sat in the box for a month.  I guess I was hoping it would make itself.


My brother in law was a boys scout so he gave me my first lesson.  I have to draw a design.  " please.." so he helped R. with the design.


R. cut out the design and placed it onto the block of wood to trace.


With a coping saw, my hubby cut along the penciled design.


Not too bad, right?  "Yay for Dad!"...but that was all my husband did.  Now, it was my turn.

I had to cut the sides of the derby car.  R. traced the design on the bottom of the block for me to cut.

Ready?  This is what I ended up with when I was done using the coping saw.  This was also when I received my second "moment."  Yes, I nearly had a heart attack when I stepped back to examine my creation or lack there of.

But with perseverance, some tools, and a lot of deep breaths, anything is possible right?

 I must say, thank you to my dremel and the sheet of sandpaper that I had because that ugly thing became this...





Yes, it is the exact same piece of wood as the picture above!  So far, no one believes me, but it is.

Sand paper can do wonders.  Next, we had to paint it so I just screwed some screws on a piece of wood so that the car can sit.

Final look of the car after R.'s paint job:

It's cute, right?  That's our first car, but its actually not the car we entered because of course if we want to even have the possibility of not coming in last, the car needs to weigh as close to 5 oz as possible.  The heavier the car is, the faster it should go (since the movement of the cars are purely from gravity).

I did a lot of research and got a lot of advice.  The only way to add enough weights to make this car near 5 oz is if I started adding weights to the top of the car.  I didn't want to do that.  I wanted to hide the weights because after all I am a girl and I wanted a "pretty" or maybe I should say, "cool" looking car.  I thought about it for a few days and so three days before the race, I decided to build a new car.  Yes, I'm crazy.  I wasn't aiming at the win, I was just aiming at not losing.

So then, R. and I built this car.  Nearly the same shape.  We just made the back far thicker so that I could add weights inside of it.

Our original car was just painted with some craft paint, but as I was at Hobby Lobby, I found this paint for model cars clearanced for $1.33 so I thought it was perfect.  R. sprayed away.  It only took 2 coats for the perfect finish.

He added transfer stickers all over the car by rubbing them on and then we finished with a clear coat of modge podge. 

Before he painted it, I drilled a couple of holes in the back so that we could slip in the weights.  I wish I had a picture to show you, but it was eleven at night when I was working on it so I was aiming at just finishing.  You can kind of tell in the picture below where the weights are.  I know I could have done a better job filling in the holes, but by the time I really noticed, R. already painted it and I didn't want to redo it.

I had to add more weights to the bottom of the car to make it heavier.  I used the dremel to cut out space for the added weights.  I added the axles and wheels to the car and used some duck tape to make sure the stayed in place.  Yes, I have penguins on my duck tape.  We ran out of the silver one so penguins it is!

So now, the weigh it.  I purposefully had the car come in at 4.9 oz (just in case the official scale didn't match mine).  I thought, it would be easier to add instead of take off.


Ta Da!  I got it to 5.0 oz on the nose with an extra weight.   You can see the extra weight on R.'s car below.


Because I'm crazy, I had spray painted the weight to match (just in case). 


There were so many creative cars that day.

6 cars are lined up for each race and each car races in each lane once for a total of 6 times.  The best of five races will be averaged for the final time.

It was pretty exciting.

In the end, I shall say, I was shocked to hear that R. came in 2nd in the Pinewood Derby Race.  The reason being, I didn't do any of the tricks people told me to do.  I didn't remove the burs from the axles.  I didn't polish the wheels.  I didn't add graphite to the wheels before the race.  Because of all this, I didn't expect to place, but we DID!

R. and I were super ecstatic.

I asked R. if he wanted to do this again next year and the answer was a definite yes, but he mentioned that next year, he would build an even faster car!  So, next year, I'll polish the wheels, sand and polish the axles, and add graphite for an added edge.

This year, I'm pretty happy with the car we built just a few days before the race.  I had such a blast building it with my son.  Next year, I'll be prepared to win.  :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

How to shorten pants, but keep the hem

I'm only five feet tall so nearly every pair of jeans I buy (unless its in the girls section) has to be hemmed.  I've faced the fact that even petite sizes run too long for me (yes, even in heels).  It'd be great if I could always find jeans in the girls section, but sometimes finding a pair that isn't bedazzled, glittered or embroidered with hearts and flowers is rather difficult, especially in my size.

If I could help it, I don't like to alter clothes because sometimes it just doesn't look the same.  With jeans that have an unworn perfectly clean hem, I do the standard, fold



and sew technique.

That's pretty basic and typical.  It looks great for the unwashed jean, but what if the jean is tattered (purposefully), washed and imperfect to begin with?  For those pairs of jeans, I want to keep that hem so I will shorten the jean, but not cut off the hem.

It's not that difficult.  Fold up the jeans and pin.


After you have pinned it, unfold and try them on to make sure they are the correct length. 

Next sew just below the original stitch.  DO not sew over or beyond that stitch because you want to have that stitch seen.  For example, in the picture below, you would sew where the white needle heads are.

Once you are done, flip the hem down and press.

Voila!  Perfect original hem, tattered, washed and all.

That was a pair of my petite pants so I only had to shorten it an inch (that wearing.  No cutting was required.  What if it were longer?  Here's a pair where I need about 6 inches off.  What was I thinking when I bought these jeans? 

After sewing along the hem line stitch, cut off all but an inch below that hem line.  I should have straighten the jeans so that it doesn't look crooked (its not crooked, trust me :)).

Next, you can do one of two things.  You can hem the frayed edge using a zig zag stitch or you can take it a step further by folding in the two edges toward each other.

Here I fold each side towards the center and then close them together.

Sew close to the folded edge for a clean look.  Although, this will not be seen. 

Pull the hem down and press.

Inside it looks like this

but on the outside, once again you have your original hem.

Neat huh?

3 pairs of jeans down, now 4 pairs of slacks to go (that's a whole-other post since slacks need hidden stitches).  At least I can finally wear some jeans that have been in my closet for a couple of years now.  At this rate, my hubby's slacks will be done next year. :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

How to fix small cracks in the wall

We built our home over 5 years ago and now that it is starting to settle a bit, we are getting cracks in the walls.  In the beginning, the builder sent someone to fix the cracks, but within the year, they would come back which was a little frustrating.

I talked to the best handy person I know, my dad.  He told me that when the crack is very minor to just use some caulk.  Best advice ever because its been a few years and they are still gone!  Here is an example of a crack in my wall.  It looks pretty bad and scary (well, it did to me when I didn't know how to fix it).


All I did was gently sand down any raised pieces of paint so that it would be level.  This does not mean get rid of the texture if there are any.  Sometimes when the walls crack, the paint where the crack is is no longer level.  All I did was remove that.

I used DAP Alex Ultra 230 caulk to fill in the crack.  I applied a small amount along the line of the crack and used my fingers to force it in, removing any excess caulk. 

 After I covered the entire crack, I waited until it was dry and then applied a coat of paint to cover the caulk.

Voila!  The crack is no longer there.  A job that I thought would be scary to tackle was pretty easy peesy... so easy that even my hubby can do it.  ;)

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I came upon a popover recipe one day, but it required a popover pan.  I called my sister, very excitedly, hoping she would have the pan, but no luck, she didn't have one.  Low and behold a few weeks later I came across a popover pan right in the end cap of an aisle at Target.  I wasn't looking for it, but it was waiting for me nonetheless.  I couldn't resist so I bought it and was making popovers that evening.

 I'm quite shocked at how easy it is.  Here's the recipe on the back of my popover pan.

Petite Popovers
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven 400F.  Grease pan; set aside.  In medium bowl, beat together all the ingredients.  Using half the batter, fill each well 2/3 full.  Bake for 20-23 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove popovers from the pan.  Repeat filling and baking procedure with remaining batter.

I bought the petite popover pan and hence the petite popover recipe.  A couple of weeks ago, I found the regular sized popover pan for half off at Target so I bought that one too!  I couldn't resist the red clearance sticker.  I haven't made regular sized popovers just yet.  I'm a little scared how big they will be.  Look at the picture of the petite popovers baking in the oven.

They are huge!

They do deflate so maybe making bigger ones won't be that much bigger :)  E. absolutely loved them and ate them for dinner.  Yes, that was all he ate that evening.
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