DIY Cutout Animal Paper Dolls

It’s a little chilly here at the Bungalow.  Brr . . . We’re treating it like a rainy day and staying warm inside:  lots of puzzles, board games, and paper crafts.  The latest we’ve come up with is a paper animal safari.  If it were a television show it would be called:  PAPER DOLLS:  ANIMAL CUTOUT EDITION.

But it’s not a tv show.  Just another free printable from Happy Bungalow.

3 giraffes, 3 tigers, 3 crocodiles, 2 lions, 2 tigers, 2 elephants, and 2 trees to lounge under. Everything fits on one 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper.  Click to print your animal cutouts.

Animal Cut Out Paper DollsDIY Cutout Animal Paper Dolls

Refrigerator Pickles (recipe)

We’ve had great success in the backyard garden this year.  Cool temps + frequent rain = productive plants ∴ loads of yummy food.

We had some cucumber seeds we didn’t plant last year, so we stuck them in the ground this year – they took off!  Too many to eat, so it was time for pickles.  We made up several batches of refrigerator pickles.  Easy, delicious, and there’s no food die like you’ll find in so many commercial pickles + it’s low in sodium.  Here’s our recipe:

Boil until sugar dissolves

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar (or whatever edible vinegar you have on hand)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion OR 1/4 cup diced onions

Pour mixture over 8 cups sliced cucumbers and let sit for a few hours. Remember fresh cucumbers = crisp pickles.  Cucumbers that have been hanging around getting soft = soggy pickles.


Store in container of choice in your refrigerator.  We went with canning jars, but anything will do.  These pickles aren’t heavily salted like what you’ll find in the store, so they won’t keep for months and months, but – well.  I know they last for two weeks (that’s how long they could survive before being eaten), but I think they’ll do fine over a longer period too.


Fresh Tomatoes


DIY Lighting for Product Photos

How do you create great product photos?  Wait for a sunny day, drag your products outdoors, take four dozen pictures, find the best pic, and endlessly tweak it in Photoshop.  No sun?  How about you round up all the lamps in your house, take eight dozen pictures, struggle to find one passable photo, and then spend too much time trying to make it look ok.

Thankfully there’s a better way and you don’t have to spend a fortune on professional equipment.  You’ll just need to head to the store and pick up a few items.

Here’s your shopping list:

  • daylight fluorescent bulbs
  • light fixtures
  • white sheet (or whatever background color you’d like
  • something or someway to hold your lights up (see below)

Happy Bungalow DIY lighting setup

A note about the light spectrum.

I used a number of light fixtures (you can see 4 in the picture), but you don’t need to.  I thought the strip fixture would give good general lighting (it does), but the light isn’t as strong as I thought it would be.  The clamp lights seem to deliver the most light and offer great flexibility (they’re about 7 dollars each).  I had the trouble light (with the yellow handle) and the blue lamp with taped on cardboard already around the house, so I used them.

It is important that all lights used in the photographing area be daylight bulbs.  Non-daylight bulbs will give your pictures a yellowy tint.  You’ll want to arrange your lights evenly to give good light to all sides of your product.  Or place your lights to one side to create a moody vibe.  It’s hard to have too many lights.  I went back to the store for reinforcements myself.

Fiddle with your camera.

I have a four year old point and shoot camera that cost a hundred bucks, but it has quite a few handy features.  If you have a digital camera, I’m guessing your camera has a few features too.  I can adjust my camera’s white balance, brightness / contrast, and lighting type exposure.  Then I can save these setting for later recall.

Take some pictures.

I started off lint rollering the white sheet I use for a backdrop before each shoot.  But I realized fuzz and minor stains will usually disappear with enough light an proper camera fiddling so know the lint roller gathers dust.  The picture below is the result of the setup shown above.  Happy Bungalow DIY lighting setup results - walnut boxes


Stayed tuned for Part II where I’ll discuss the creation of a white box for taking pictures of small pieces and free photo editing software.

You Can Reuse that Calendar


Don’t throw that calendar away!  You’ll be able to use it some day.  I have.

An array of calendars

You’ll find me somewhere between thriftiness, sentimentality, and a search for purpose in any seemingly useless item.  I keep a lot of stuff, including cool calendars that I could cut out and frame.  And once you save one or two, you might as well save every one.

I never did frame any calendar pages, but it turns out you can reuse them.  Who knew?  There’s only 14 different types of years.  So, this 2012 leap year your old 1984 calendars can be hung back up on the wall.

Your collection doesn’t stretch back that far?  Don’t worry, neither does mine.  The trouble is the leap day, February 29th.  Rascals.  Work around the day by hanging up a 2006 calendar and use it for the first two months.  Then come March 1st, put up your 2007 calendars and use them through to New Year’s Eve.  Just don’t depend on these old calendars to tell you about daylight savings time, lunar cycles, or certain holidays that move around.

Next year you can break out your old 2002 calendars for all twelve months (you can only split calendars on leap years).  And save this year’s calendar for 2040.

Is there more information on the internet?  Of course there is.  Here’s a site dedictated to calendar reuse.

Make Your Own Maple Syrup

It’s winter and the maple tree in my front yard is frozen, but Spring will be coming soon.  In addition to all the warming weather and flowers, Spring means maple syrup making time.  In my front yard is a big maple tree waiting to be tapped.  I’ve done some research and it seems I need a tap, a lot of buckets, and a fire.

The process:  I drill a hole in the tree, insert a tap, and let the sap flow into buckets.  I then boil down the gallons of sap into pints of syrup.  The boiling needs to be done outside because of the excessive moisture created with the hours of boiling.  I’m thinking a wood fire all day long followed by an outdoor dinner.  Roasted potatoes and steak?  Hot dogs and baked beans?

Check back as I’ll be updating my maple syrup making as the year progresses.  [edit:  This never happened.  More research revealed there are hours and hours and hours of boiling involved; a process best done not in your smallish indoor kitchen.  So.  We’ll have to wait a few more years until we build our corn shucking / maple syrup making shed out back]