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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How to Make Cool Zig-Zag Rocker Shorts

Zigzag Shorts

When a heat wave rolls in, I find myself reaching for sandals, sun tea, and scissors for snipping old outfits into something more summery. For this week's How-Tuesday, Etsy Admin Nicole Licht (a.k.a. yomissnicole) and her daughter Lucia (a.k.a. Luciaa) penned a post on transforming a pair of bland second-hand jeans into some rock star quality duds with a few household materials and some geometric ingenuity.

I love combing through my closet and drawers at the beginning of each new season. More often than not, potential springs forth in something once overlooked. For summer, my sweet teen, Lucia, and I worked together using thrifted jeans, masking tape, bleach and an old studded belt, to create some killer summer shorts. Super fun and super easy — rock on!

Supplies you’ll need:
  • Natural bristle paintbrush
  • Old jeans
  • Metal studs reclaimed from a studded leather belt
  • 2 cardboard rectangles cut the length and width of the legs of the shorts you’ll be cutting
  • 1” masking tape
  • 7 : 8  bleach to water solution
1. Dig through your closest and find that pair of jeans that you’ve been thinking of cutting into shorts.
2. Cut them down to a bit longer than you might want them to be.

3. Using masking tape, create a zigzag pattern. Try and leave about 1” between each tape zigzag.
4. Insert cardboard into the shorts. This will keep the bleach from seeping though to the other side.
5. After laying the shorts flat in your bathtub, paint the bleach solution on the exposed jean zigzags. Let sit for about 15 minutes.

6. Remove cardboard inserts and rinse. After a few minutes, remove masking tape and finish rinsing out all bleach residues. Hang to dry.

7. Remove studs from an old belt, if you have one, making sure to bend prongs outward. (You can also use new metal studs.)

8. Lie out studs on jeans and poke the prongs through the fabric. Use pliers to bend back prongs and secure.

9. Try on your shorts and perfect the length. Trim away any additional inches.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How Not to Kill Your Kids' Dreams ??

Teaching Kids to Think Big

Caleb Gardner is an amateur father and husband who writes at The Exceptional Man and dabbles in photography, design, and music. When listening to the cacophony of modern-day America, Caleb prefers a side of Scotch. He calls Chicago home, and in winter, less-nice things.

I recently saw an adorable video by Red Balloon, an English-language school in Brazil. The students say what they want to be when they grow up, and the school makes them official business cards for their chosen profession – even if it happens to be “Dinosaur Hunter.”

Imagine if we were all given this degree of creative freedom from such a young age. We start with this kind of imaginative power and the uninhibited ability to create any sort of future for ourselves — then “growing up” becomes growing to fit into any number of predetermined societal boxes. What I like about Red Balloon's project is that it gives these kids something tangible, something they can literally hold in their hands in order to remember how big their dreams were. (Plus the cards are just cool. I really want the “Ninja Ghost Super Hero” one for myself.)

My son isn’t yet at the point where he’s dreaming of being a dinosaur hunter, but this video got me thinking about how to eventually do something like this for him. He’s just at the age where his imagination is starting to bloom, and my wife and I see it as something fragile that needs to be cultivated. We want to be intentional about it. His imagination – or lack thereof – will affect his entire life.

In my experience, parents are often the ones who end up inhibiting big dreams in their children – not for sinister reasons, of course, but because “real life” demands a certain level of grounding; one can’t always play, so he'll have to buckle down and get to work. My wife and I will also have to eventually pass along these modern-day mores, and therein lies the rub: how do we let him think as big as “dinosaur hunter” while impressing upon him common sense and work ethic? How do we encourage him to keep his head in the clouds, while keeping his feet moving on the ground?

Photo by Red Balloon

My parents always focused on the outputs of what they saw as a successful life: get a steady job, get married, have kids, open a 401(k), die as materially well-off as possible. Their motivations were pure, of course, and I think there is something to be said about each generation working hard to help the next get a foot in the door. But I think this is where we can change the definition of success for our son. I’d much rather encourage him to do something he loves, to make a difference, to think for himself – to live life to the fullest. The outputs can be a natural extension of that, but I’d rather focus on the outcomes of a life well-lived.
Thankfully we have a few years until we seriously have to think this through, but until then I’d love to hear from some more experienced parents about how you tackle this challenge. How do you help your kids “think big”? Any tips for the rest of us?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I love getting postcards from around the world with Postcrossing!

My friend Wendy told me about a website called Postcrossing at, where you send and receive postcards to and from people all around the world. It's so cool!
The way it works is, you can send up to 5 postcards at a time to randomly selected people in the world, and as they arrive, you are randomly assigned to other folks for them to send to you.
The ones that are the best include a photo and written message about a special place in that area and a personal message from the sender.
I have sent cards to Germany, Brazil, UK, Lithuania, Russia, China, Taiwan, Belarus, Croatia, and The Netherlands.
So far I've received cards from Brazil and China, and the senders told me a little something about the place shown on the card, like the clay people that are believed to keep ghosts away.
I love that the website tracks your miles too, so you can get kind of competitive with friends about it too.
And you can exchange cards directly with people too instead of just being random about it. I always include my address on the postcards so the one who receives it is welcome to send me a card as well.
Like there's a girl in Lithuania who's doing postcrossing for a school project, and she offered to send cards back, so I've asked her to send a card to my sons, because they love to get mail, and I think they'll enjoy receiving a postcard from Lithuania. I will be able to show them on the site where Lithuania is and how many miles the card had to travel.