As we enter into 2015, it's good to take a look back at 2014 and see if the time was well spent. For us, it was not our best year as we misread some personalities on a job outside of Historic Shed. I won't go into detail, but it is sufficient to say that we had to hire a lawyer to pursue legal action as a result, and have had a lean couple of months financially. We will have to see how this plays out in 2015, but mentally we have moved forward and are focused on making 2015 a better year for Historic Shed, and on nothing but Historic Shed. From a personal side, I have to say that I met my personal goal in 2014 to get more in touch with my crafty side. Spawned by some friends who introduced me to scrapbooking (which didn't take, but did get my creative side reignited), and by Pinterest and HomeTalk, I vowed to focus my left side brain cells on more than just sheds and cottages. I thought it would be good for me to reflect on some of the good that came out of 2014 from the personal side of my life, to balance out the bad. So now I am going to post some of my crafty attempts, in spite of the possibility of extreme ridicule. The photos are of my actual end product, but links to the original inspiration from the web is provided wherever possible below so you can see what they were supposed to look like. Nautical Rope Chandelier - We built a stair addition on the front of our house a few years ago, but have not managed to finish it out completely. This past year, Craig put the salvaged wood ceiling in and drywalled and painted the walls. We had a single bulb hanging from the ceiling, which did not light the stairs up sufficiently and did nothing to enhance the space. I had spent some serious time searching for the right chandelier, but anything I liked was out of our budget. When I saw this DIY rope chandelier, I immediately knew if would be perfect (and affordable) to hang in our stairway. I spent $7 on an ugly chandelier at a thrift store, bought $16 worth of rope (2 sizes) and got out my hot glue gun. I burned my fingers multiple times and it took longer than expected to wrap the entire chandelier, but I am pretty pleased at the end result, even though it doesn't really look like the original chandelier that inspired me. The sign on the wall is a result of project #3 on this list. Garden Jar Accents - When I saw this garden accent project, I figured it would be a good craft to do with the kids, and I was right. When we first installed them in the garden in the spring, they looked rather tall and awkward, but by the end of summer, they could barely be seen (there are 2 in the photo below). Basically, you use exterior silicone caulk to glue glass vase stones (from the dollar store) to jars (we used pickle and spaghetti sauce jars). Then you screw the lid onto a stick, pound it into the ground, and screw the jar on. Quick and easy garden accent! Wood Signs - During summer vacation, my son decided he wanted to make wooden cutouts from scrap wood from our sheds to sell and make some cash for computer gear. Since the kids have to come to the Historic Shed shop regularly over the summer, the plan expanded into a major industry that also involved my daughter, creating painted wood signs on scrap shed wood (mostly cypress) as well as the cutouts. Once they had enough signs, we got a booth at a local Greenmarket and the kids were in charge of selling. In spite of the extreme heat, and poor attendance at the market, they made some decent spending money. Of course, they lost interest in making more signs after that, so instead I started making them in my spare time (OK, when I supposed to be doing housework since there is no such thing as spare time). I got enough together and have sold them at the same local greenmarket and a St. Pete event as well. It's not going to be a second career, but it gives me a hobby that doesn't cost much and keeps my mind entertained. Plus I can power watch PBS shows on Netflix and Amazon that no one else in my family is particularly interested in (I am up to date on Downton Abbey, The Paradise, Mr. Selfridge, and Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries) while I paint. I do a lot of beachy themed signs, but also some on local history, which I donate to a local history non-profit to sell. Christmas Star Lights - Our neighborhood decided to start a Christmas lighting contest this year. While I knew we were never going to be in the running to win, I figured I should do my part and add a few extra elements to our regular decor. I wasn't overly successful, but I built two of these lit stars to put up. The problem was, I really needed a few more to hang in the palm tree in our front yard the way I had envisioned, but got distracted by other holiday preparations. I will likely make more next year and perhaps my idea will come together properly. I can't find the original post that inspired me, but here's a blog with basically the same thing, although I used scrap wood from our sheds rather than yardsticks: http://artfulparent.com/2012/12/lighted-wooden-stars-trying-out-a-pinterest-idea.html It did look pretty decent lit up at night, but doesn't do much for daytime decorating. Christmas Pine Cone Craft - For no real reason, except that we have pine trees behind our Historic Shed shop, I tried to recreate this craft I found on Hometalk: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/42854633925766382/ It's a little anemic, but still works. We'll see what 2015 inspires creatively. I have a bunch of new cottage plans partially developed that I vow to finish and post this year. Ideas I still haven't implemented, including plenty for sheds and cottages, can be seen on our Pinterest Boards at: http://www.pinterest.com/historicshed/ As a side note, I also tried these helpful hints over the past year, which worked really well: Shower and Tub Cleaner using dish soap and vinegar in a dishwashing wand Cheap and Easy Trick for Cleaning a Smooth Stovetop using baking soda and a towel I got my son to cut up a bunch of old toddler hangers to make these Chip Clips since you can never have too many.