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Wedding Photobooth

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This was our pride and joy!  Everyone loved the photobooth and it was all DIY!

(Prices may have changed, * = reusable)

    • iPad (we already owned one)
    • Party Booth app: $4.99
    • *iPad stand: $28.60
    • *Canon SELPHY Printer: $74.99
      (wireless, compatible with the iPad, prints high-quality 4×6 photos)
    • *Extra paper and ink for the printer: $29.73 each
      (We bought 3 extra, and have 2 left over! We plan on using them for personal projects!)
    • PVC pipe (see diagram): about $70, and we have a few leftover
    • Silver Spray paint: must be for plastic! about $4 each, we needed 2 canisters
    • *Shower Curtains: <$20 each
      (5 to cover all sides, we bought 6 to give an extra option for the photo backdrop)




We put the whole booth together for $346.11!  The cheapest professional booth we found was $650 for a limited number of hours!!!


PVC Frame Assembly Directions:

  1. I measured out how big the enclosed booth needed to be, and my mom created a digital model.


  1. You’ll need to purchase each of the PVC parts at your local hardware store.  We made shopping easy and did an online order at Lowes.  They had it ready within an hour.  I didn’t have to sort through all the PVC connectors looking for the right ones!
  2. Assemble all the PVC according to the diagram, but do not hammer them in!  If you want the frame to be sturdy, hammer them in at the last minute (at the venue) because they will be difficult to separate.
    We actually ended up using PVC cutters to disassemble the frame.  If we were more motivated, we would have used the mallet to hammer them back out, but we knew we probably wouldn’t use it again anyway.
  3. Spray paint the frame while it is semi-assembled and let it dry for at least a day.  You might need to apply a second coat.
  4. Before unassembling, mark the PVC pipes and connectors with small dots so you can easily reassemble at the venue.  It works like dominos!  Match the pipe with 2 pink dots to the connector with 2 pink dots.  Match the pipe with 1 black dot to the connector with 1 black dot!  This made assembly much easier at the venue!photobooth6
  5. Put all the shower curtains on the rings and bring them to the venue.
    The 9’ side will need two curtains, so I overlapped two curtains.
    The other 9’ side is the entrance, so it is okay to have an opening.
  6. At the venue, string the curtains onto the PVC pipes before putting the pipes together.
  7. Use a mallet to hammer all the pipes together.photobooth1
  8. You’ll need a spot for a prop/printer table and some stools up against the back drop.
  9. We also put a standing lamp in the corner of the booth so the pictures were well-lit.  This made a big difference!


iPad and Printer Directions:

  1. We already had an iPad, and I read about the Party Booth app on a blog – so that is where the whole idea began!
  2. You can personalize the app with your own title for the photo strips, so we added our names and wedding date.  You’ll need to type it in word on a very small document size (1”h x 2”w).  Then save the document as a PDF – this is the only size the app accepts.  You’ll need a DropBox account to upload the image into the app.background-page-001
  3. Set up the SELPHY printer using the enclosed directions.  You can either connect to the same WiFi connection as your iPad or use a direct connection (we had to do this because the venue did not have WiFi).
  4. Do a test-run to make sure the iPad stand is placed correctly.
  5. photobooth3We also made sure the iPad power-cord was plugged in, so it didn’t die in the middle of the reception.
  6. The photos will print out as two 2×6 strips on a glossy 4×6 sheet of paper.  I left the guests a pair of scissors so they could take one copy and leave one for Paul and I to remember them by!




  • You save a lot of money!
  • All the photos are saved on the iPad, so you have digital memories as well.
  • You get to pick the props and colors (some professionals charge extra for this).


  • Putting the PVC pipe together is tough work!
  • If you aren’t prepared to spend a lot of time and effort disassembling, you may only be able to use it once.

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Wedding Ceremony Tips

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Okay, this isn’t totally DIY-related.  We didn’t hand-craft the ceremony, but I did want to share a few important touches we added.  My family has a history of orthostatic intolerance, which basically means we can’t all stand up for long periods (or sometimes short periods) of time.  I did not want my mother’s illness to get in the way of her sharing this special day with us.  Since she likely wasn’t going to be able to make it to the venue that day, we planned a surprise ceremony in the backyard for immediate family.  Our reverend was kind enough to perform a short service and we read our vows to each other.  You can read more about our Koi Pond Ceremony on my mom’s other blog.


In order to make the 30-minute ceremony more manageable for the bridal party, I bought stools for all the bridesmaids and groomsmen (12 total).  I also had two taller cherry-wood stools that Paul and I sat in during a poetry reading.  Target had the best price on the stools, but they were only sold in stores.  Of course, each store only had 2-3 stools.  With the help of some family members, I managed to go to 5 targets to get all the stools we needed!  They were perfect, classy, and comfortable!


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DIY Christmas Stockings

When I realized we would have thirteen people and pets in our home over the holidays, it seemed like a cute idea as well as cost effective, to make our own Christmas Stockings.  With a little fabric paint we were able to make our own personalized holiday stockings for a fraction of what it would cost if we bought them online.

Here’s a quick recap of what we did.  First, we bought some blue no pill fleece.  Of course Red would be traditional, but its also a bit harder to find in these last shopping days before Christmas.  We also found a really good sale and a lovely shade of blue that would match our tree.  We also picked up some white fleece for the trim.  The amount of material you will need depends on the the number and size of the stockings you will be making.

We traced an “old stocking” from Christmas’ past, giving about a half inch border all around for a seam.  That served as our pattern for our baker’s dozen stocking project.  We folded the fabric in half — with the “good side” of the fleece on the inside of the fold.  Traced, pinned and cut the stocking out.  On the machine we made a straight stitch around the edges then turned the stocking right-side-out.

For the trim, we cut out strips of white fleece that were about five inches tall and more than twice the width of the stocking — leaving about 1-2″ of excess.  With the stocking right side up, we placed the white fleece trim right side DOWN on top of the blue stocking and pinned it in place.  Note:  Both “right sides” of the fleece are touching on the inside.  Then we sewed the pieces together with a quick fastening stitch.

The final step was to turn the stocking with trim, inside out again and sew the last side seam of the white trim together on the edge.  Cut off any excess, turn right side out again and personalize with fabric paint.

Was an easy and fun project and everyone loved their new blue stockings. :)

Homemade “Drip” Irrigation

My boyfriend is a proud country boy at home in the great outdoors or the back woods of Kentucky perhaps in any event.  So when he came to join me here in SoCal he was eager to plant a little garden in the land of sun and .. well more sun.  It’s the desert after all.  Don’t let all those manicured and chemically altered green lawns fool you.  We live in the desert where it seems nothing grows except granite and intolerance.  So when the melon blossoms would shrivel up and die each day, my man had to think outside the planter box.

“I knew how to water plants back home,” he said to me one morning as he was downing another 32 ounce bottle of Gatorade which had become his blood line when he realized what DRY HEAT does to his system.  “I could drench the ground in the morning and it’d be good for a couple of days.  But here I gotta water first thing every day and then again at supper time.”

Even still, he noticed that our sandy soil wasn’t holding the moisture like the rich clay and compost that he was use to tilling back home.  As he finished his Glacier Freeze he had an idea and went into the kitchen for a metal skewer.

He carefully poked four holes around the bottom edge of the empty bottle.  (A nail, awl, tack or other sharp object can be used with care.)  And then dug a hole in our garden next to a new artichoke plant that was joining our planter box crops.

Before putting the bottle in the ground, he filled the bottom of the jar with sandy soil.  About two inches deep.  Then took the hose and powered a stream of water into the container to distribute the dirt so that the heavy rocks would work their way to the bottom.

He built up the sides around the new plant to prevent water runoff and then placed the bottle in the ground near the roots and filled it with water.  The soil at the bottom helps to slow the release of the water reserve over the course of a few hours even on very hot days.  You can fine tune this homemade drip system by adding more holes or more sandy substrate to your bottles.

We put a half dozen jars in our little melon patch too, and we are happy to report that our blossoms now mature into healthy yellow flowers and we even have a few new tiny cantaloupes beginning to grow.


Recurring subscriptions

Sometimes saving money is simply about knowing where your money is scheduled to go! I have found Amazon Subscribe and Save to be an excellent program for saving money (up to 15% if you pre-schedule deliveries) with excellent subscription policies. Each time an item is slated for delivery they notify you in advance, giving you an opportunity to CANCEL the order without being charged or penalized.

Now THAT’s how a company should do business. And Amazon gets high marks for customer service. They have live people to talk to you about any problem that may arise and they refund purchases without hassle. As a disabled lady, I rely on Amazon for so much of my shopping needs and I really value their dedication to customer service.

However, not all business have the same standards or customer retention that Amazon maintains. I found that out today, when I was charged a $75 anual fee on a social networking account that I no longer use.

As I did some research on the charge, I found that paypal has an automatic payment “feature” that can easily go off the radar if you aren’t diligent.

Want to check your paypayl account vendor relationships?

  1. Log in to your PayPal account.
  2. Click Profile at the top of the page.
  3. Click My Money, then click Update beside My Preapproved Payments.
  4. If necessary, select the payment, and then click Cancel to remove the autopay contract.

In addition to scheduled payments, paypal has pre-approved agreements with some vendors.  In a nutshell, that means the vendor can simply send your paypal account a bill for services and it will pay it automatically.  When I looked at my paypal payment plans I was shocked to see FACEBOOK (among others) listed. But Facebook is free! Why have a payment plan pre-approved on a FREE SERVICE? Most likely one of the questionable affiliates had a bot that grabbed and flagged a one time payment and set the switch to have paypal authorize them to pay for life. I also found that social networking account  that started my investigation this morning .. not to mention any names (IMVU) and it had no less than FOUR paypal agreements to autopay. Seriously? Wow, talk about a sophisticated avatar. That app CLONED me and set up hooks to keep itself discreetly well fed. Because unlike Amazon, who notifies you when you have a pending auto-pay scheduled — this company sends “THANK YOU” notifications after the fact.

So, my tip for today …. GO FIND your auto-pay bills and check out your pre-approved payment plans for your paypal and your bank. You may be surprised who is authorized to spend your money.

Want more information on what bills should or shouldn’t be on auto-pay. Here’s an excellent web-icle on the topic Bills You Shouldn’t Put on Autopay with helpful links.

Bottom line you should KNOW what bills are on auto-pay and what bills you need to pay by electronic hand.  Other wise you may get an unexpected penalty free and interest charged for a late payment because you didn’t know that your Amazon card WASN’T set to autopay!  Not that that happened to me of course.  Hey, I’m learning how all this bill/pay stuff works and apparently there is a FEE to the Life Lessons Accounting 101 course that I am enrolled in.


Going No Shampoo – Part 4

The cat’s out of the bag!  Or the shampoo bottle in this case.  In part 4 of my “No Poo” series, I explain how and why I’ve gone back to using commercial shampoo as part of my hair care routine.  I haven’t given up on baking soda and vinegar.  I use a combination of traditional shampoo/conditioner once or twice a week, with baking soda and vinegar one day in between.  Overall, I shampoo less and my hair looks better than it has in years.

DIY with Enviro-Friendly Materials

Ten years ago, my home improvement projects were focused on reducing allergens (have I mentioned my hairless pets?)  But today indoor air polution is a lot more serious than simple dust mites or swapping out the carpet and drapes.  Last year while renovating a downstairs bedroom suite for our housemate I learned about No VOC materials.  There was a whole lot I didn’t know and in my research I learned the difference between being “enviro-friendly” and being “human-friendly”.  From flooring, to paint and even what house plants may help reduce indoor pollution!  I tried to take good notes along the way so that I could share what I’ve learned  in order to let other people make informed choices about their next DYI.

I sat down several times this past year to write articles for this serious of NO VOCs … but sometimes somethings just don’t get the priority they need in the hopper of life’s musings to actually get enough momentum to get out the door.  Sadly my work on Enviro-Friendly materials falls into that list of — too many things … not enough time.  I say sadly too because I am watching a set of unfortunate circumstances unfold with a family member who finds herself in the middle of a workplace fubar regarding just this issue.

So even though I can’t provide all the glitzy pictures from the installation of marmoleum, or show the in-depth cost-analysis of being green or demonstrate the importance of the proper underlayment !  I can offer up my notes from the past year for those who have the inclination to take a closer look at these important issues.

Don’t take my word for it .. Google this for yourself.  Gather the data … get the facts .. and make prudent choices for yourself and your family.

Let me get the ball rolling for you with a brief definition of terms … No VOC, Low VOC, EDC, Enviro-Friendly, Sustainable Resources, PBCs … it’s a veritable alphabet soup out there when it comes to digesting the reports and slick adverttising geared at today’s enviromentally concious consumer.  So here are a few glossary notes before we begin:

“For starters, the EPA’s definition of ‘low’ is based not on an indoor health standard but on an outdoor environmental standard.” http://www.utne.com/2006-07-01/ACleanerCoat.aspx


“John Chang, who directed the research and whose findings finally were published by the agency in 2001. ‘Certain paints marketed as ‘low VOC’ may still emit significant quantities of air pollutants,’ he concluded.”  same source as above.



An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

“Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors.  VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.

Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.”




Household products including: paints, paint strippers, and other solvents; wood preservatives; aerosol sprays; cleansers and disinfectants; moth repellents and air fresheners; stored fuels and automotive products; hobby supplies; dry-cleaned clothing.


Health Effects


Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.  Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness.”

“Studies have found that levels of several organics average 2 to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors. During and for several hours immediately after certain activities, such as paint stripping, levels may be 1,000 times background outdoor levels.”


But it’s just not feeling a little queezy … VOCs have been linked to cancer in both animal studies and in humans. http://eetd.lbl.gov/ied/sfrb/voc-cancer.html

In January 2009 http://www.vexcon.com/pdfs/PI100VexconVOCGuide.pdf New VOC Regulations from US EPA, OTC, CARB, and SCAQMD



Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Are Indoor Risk

Researchers Find EDC Levels Are Higher Indoors Than Outdoors


Original article from SilentSpring


Same article published at the NIH


“Over the past 15 years, some chemical classes commonly used in building materials, furnishings, and consumer products have been shown to be endocrine disrupting chemicals—that is they interfere with the action of endogenous hormones. These include PCBs, used in electrical equipment, caulking, paints and surface coatings; chlorinated and brominated flame retardants, used in electronics, furniture, and textiles; pesticides, used to control insects, weeds, and other pests in agriculture, lawn maintenance, and the built environment; phthalates, used in vinyl, plastics, fragrances, and other products; alkylphenols, used in detergents, pesticide formulations, and polystyrene plastics; and parabens, used to preserve products like lotions and sunscreens.”

August 5th summary in WebMD


Concentrations of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) — found in many everyday products and of concern due to potential health hazards — are higher indoors than outdoors, according to a new study.

But they are equally present, the researchers found, in an urban, low-income community near an oil refinery and in a rural, affluent coastal community without much industry.


EDCs can mimic or disrupt the body’s natural hormone system, Rudel says. As a result, they can hamper cell growth and development.

Since the mid-1990s, scientists have been focusing on the study of EDCs, Rudel says, to see how they might affect child development, reproduction, and cancers such as breast and prostate.“

Tracking EDCs

The researchers found 39 chemicals outdoors and 63 indoors, including phthalates, parabens, PBDE flame retardants, PCBs, and pesticides.

The chemicals are found in such products as detergents, furniture, carpets, electronic equipment, pesticides, cosmetics, and building materials.”

How to Avoid EDCs
Research is ongoing, and until more is known, Rudel says concerned people can take a few measures to reduce potential exposure to the compounds.

Use fewer products overall, such as cleaning products and cosmetics, that contain EDCs.
Avoid fabrics coated with anti-stain chemical.
Avoid use of antibacterial soaps, which contain triclosan, an EDC.


There’s a lot to digest here. So here are some quick notes that will help:

Look for NO VOC options when remodeling choose LOW VOC only when NO VOC is unavailable.

Enviro-Friendly doesn’t always mean NO VOC  (e.g Bamboo flooring is sustainable resourse and better for the planet, but when formaldihyde ink is used to dye the end product it contains VOCs that will gass out in your home.)

What if after you read this article you feel like you are living in Love Canal? Well for starts you can pick up some cheap house plants from your local hard ware store.  Take a look at these resources for how common house plants can go a long way to fight indoor air polution.

Zap Harmful Air Pollutants, Naturally

Houseplants Devour VOC’s

Some day I may have time to sit down and show you how easy it was to lay marmoleum and how much different it feels to work with NO VOC materials.  Seriously you can SLEEP in the room the day you paint!  But for now … because it simply seemed important, I wanted to at least plant the seed that this is an important issue for everyone to think about.  Do the research for yourself, weigh the benefits and costs and make informed decisions for your next project.

The 20-Cent, 2-Minute Thistle Bird Feeder

Okay your price may vary of course depending on how much you estimate an old knee high stocking is worth. But by my calculations we are talking about pennies to make this easy DIY thistle feeder for your backyard birds.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 knee high stocking (or you can cut the leg off of an old stocking that you were going to throw away)
1 chopstick (or a twig would work fine too)
1 lid to a pickle jar the size doesn’t really matter
And thistle seed

Place the pickle jar lid at the bottom of your stocking.

Next, I use a large empty yogurt container to help me hold the stocking in place in order to fill it with thistle.

Pour the thistle into the stocking until it is three to four inches high. Then take a chopstick or twig and push it through the thistle right above the pickle jar lid.

That’s it.

Attach to a tree limb or hang on a hook for your backyard birds.

It took my goldfinches about two weeks before they found the thistle feeder but once they did the word spread all through the neighborhood and now I have a wonderful little flock of happy song birds along with the scrub jays, sparrows and towhees who eat the wild bird seed alongside them in my flat bed tray.

Why spend twenty dollars or more when you can make this easy thistle feeder for only pennies?

How to make Thieves Oil at Home for a Household Cleaner

To be honest, I know very little behind the science or technology of these reputable brands like Young Living Essential Oils or Auru Cacia who each sell varieties of thieves blend or medieval oil blend.  I’ve certainly read up a bit on the legend that has several variants but goes something like … grave robbers during medieval times used an assortment of essential oils to protect themselves from getting the plague. And while there does seem to be some corresponding notes in various old texts

“POUR THIEVES” VINEGAR (cxlviii. £ 99). — Mr. W. G. Bell, in a recent lecture on the Plague, explained this curious name. It appears that during the pestilence four men were caught in the act of robbing the dead. Curious to ascertain how the robbers escaped infection the authorities discovered that the men rubbed their bodies with a mixture of vinegar and spices. An enterprising firm at once placed the remedy on the market under the appropriate name of its first users. Some of these old labels were recently found in the cellars of a firm in the Minories. Dr. Uvedale believed in vinegar poured over a red-hot brick as a plague preventive. (See Robinson’s ‘ History of Enfield,’ i. 1823, p. 121). J. ARDAGH.”

There is hardly a consensus on what these criminals used and much less on an similarity on modern day blends.  But there is certainly a lot claims out there with supporting science to the degree that you believe your own Google news.  And I would encourage anyone to do their own homework when it comes to alternative healing modalities and see what may be right for your unique body chemistry and circumstances.

For me?  I like the way this five essential oil blend smells.  And when I use it as one ingredient in my homemade cleaners it makes the house smell fresh!

Here’s the recipe from the video below:


  • Lemon Zest from 1 Large Lemon
  • 4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 4 Cinnamon Sticks
  • ¼ Cup Whole Cloves
  • ~5 Drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Carefully remove just the zest from one large lemon, as this is the part that contains the most essential oil.  Place in a pot for the stove with the rosemary, cinnamon and cloves and add about a quart of water.  Let the mixture come to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  ALTERNATIVELY: For an energy efficient preparation, simply turn off the heat and let sit covered for two hours.  Strain the mixture and place the liquid in a glass jar.  Add your five drops of Eucalyptus Oil to the container and cover with a tight fitting lid.  You can then add another quart of water to the same pot and re-use your peel and spices for another 2-3 batches.
I keep this concentrate in a mason jar and store it with my other cleaning supplies.  Below are a few recipes we use at our house.

General Purpose Cleaner:

Place 2 cups water in an empty (clean!) spray bottle and add ¼ cup of the five oil blend to the bottle.  This works well for counter tops, tile, stone floors, marmoleum and sinks.

Glass Cleaner:

Take a bottle of the General Purpose Cleaner (above) and add ¼ cup White Vinegar.

Wood Cleaner/Polish:

Place 2 cups warm water in an small bucket or bowl.  Add 3 TBL of the five oil blend, 2 drops of dish soap and 1 tsp of olive oil.  I use this on my wood cabinets, tables and wooden banister.  It cuts through the dust and grime and leaves the wood shiny with a wonderful clean smell.

Laundry Additive:

I like to add about a half cup to two gallons of our home made liquid laundry detergent.  Hey if it kept the plague at bay, it can’t hurt eh?