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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wacky Wednesday #66—Toothbrush Fairy

The Tooth Fairy is a well-known character, but today I’d like to introduce her lesser-known cousin, the Toothbrush Fairy. The Toothbrush Fairy is a playful character who travels the land, high-fiving people for keeping their teeth clean and their smiles happy. Her crown is made of shiny silver-painted toothbrushes that have been retired from daily service. The Toothbrush Fairy’s wand is also made of toothbrushes that have been taken out of circulation.

This idea came to me in stages. I’ll share something embarrassing because we’re all friends here on my blog: there were twenty four used toothbrushes in our house. Some were tucked into medicine cabinets, forgotten. Others had been saved as back-up brushes. A few brushes were earmarked for craft use. Several had bristles that no longer stood at a right angle to the handle—they’d been through some rough times and their barely-identifiable bristles had been chomped, twisted and flattened almost to oblivion. In my defense, I hate throwing things into the trash that might be used in some other way. On the other hand, twenty four extra toothbrushes is a little extreme. Clearly, it was time to turn the old brushes into something new, or to bid them farewell forever. Given this choice, I immediately thought of painting them silver and turning them into art. Using such a utilitarian item as decoration delighted me. And somewhere along the way, the Toothbrush Fairy was imagined.

At some point I decided that the Toothbrush Fairy should do a good deed. Fairies have magic powers, as you have heard, and I decided that the Toothbrush Fairy would bring twenty new toothbrushes to people who need them. It may seem odd to combine Wacky Wednesday with a good deed. It’s not like I call it “Giving Wednesday.” But the idea really appeals to me. Why not combine giving with goofiness? It feels good to give, and it feels good to laugh—why not bring the two together?

There are many worthy organizations in San Diego, but I decided that the Toothbrush Fairy will visit Fr. Joe’s Villages, an organization that helps the homeless. Homelessness is an issue that I ponder regularly. It’s a reality where I live: San Diego has the fourth largest population of homeless people in America (and the third largest for homeless veterans). This is tragic. I’ve donated to Fr. Joe’s Villages, and I’ve given homeless people food. Not everyone will agree about homelessness. People have different ideas about how to help homeless people or whether to help them at all. But I think most people would agree that no matter the reason why someone is homeless, every person needs a toothbrush. A healthy mouth contributes to a healthy body and a positive self-image. The Toothbrush Fairy can’t solve homelessness on her own but she wants to help in a small way. So tomorrow I will visit Father Joe’s Village and donate twenty new toothbrushes to the residents. Fr. Joe’s houses homeless people, with a focus on helping them to find permanent housing as soon as possible. One of Fr. Joe’s services is helping people to find jobs so that they can afford housing. Fr. Joe’s also helps its residents with health care, childcare and schooling for kids and teens.

As whimsical as my art is, I’m very practical and I like the idea of gifts that are truly needed, and will be used. A toothbrush is a small gift but small acts can mean a lot to someone who doesn’t have a lot of hope.

According to the Lemelson-MIT Invention Index, in 2003 Americans identified the toothbrush as the number one invention we could not live without. I rest my case. (Just kidding. I’m not finished yet.)

I like to get a lot of bang for my buck, making art without spending a lot. Here’s my cost break down for this week’s outfit:

Used toothbrushes                         $       0

Silver paint (I already had)            $       0

Dress (already had)                        $       0

Wings (gift from neighbor)           $       0

Hot glue sticks                                 $    .50

20 new toothbrushes                     $19.33

Total                                                        $19.83

This week’s creative challenge was both fun and meaningful for me. This whimsical-worthy combination actually sums up my approach to life in general: have fun. Laugh a lot. Share. Be kind. (Brush your teeth.) And smile. You never know how much it might mean to the person on the receiving end….

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wacky Wednesday #65—Toys

I’ve said it before: we grownups need fun. Which is why I’m wearing lots of toys today.

Months ago I began stashing toys and play things that otherwise might have been recycled or ??? Take, for example, the plastic wands that come in bubble containers. Most people would toss the wand once the bubble jar was empty. Not me. I saw the colorful wands as art supplies. I like their ridged texture, the bright colors, the variety of their designs, and the reminder of the fun of blowing bubbles.

And then I began finding rubber jacks here and there, mixed with random toys in boxes (stashed there in my desperate attempts to get toys off the floor). No one around here is playing with jacks, so these also went into my collection for future art projects.

What to do with the Slinky that--within seconds of having been opened--tied itself in knots? Art!

This week’s accessories have both a lighthearted aspect and a message. The lighthearted part is in the mishmash of color and texture and the playful items I’m wearing. The message is that grownups need fun and laughter as much as kids do—maybe more than kids do. If making a crazy hat and necklace makes me laugh, then I’m living the kind of life I want to live. If these accessories make others laugh or smile, I’m delighted, because laughing is good for the body and the soul.

And that’s it, folks. Color. Fun. Happy. Play.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wacky Wednesday #64—Clothespins

Clothespins don’t get much attention--at least not from me. I don’t think about them very often—but this makes them an ideal subject for a Wacky Wednesday theme. WW often involves elevating the ordinary and using something in an unexpected way. Today’s the day to let clothespins shine.

Literally. Because I bought some sparkly clothespins at a thrift store, and they do shine. The sparkly pins are pink, turquoise and fuchsia, and they are in their original wrappers. I’m curious about why they were never opened. Baby shower props never used? Or were they a gift from Liberace to Dolly Parton? Much as Dolly loves sparkles, I’m pretty sure she’s not doing her own laundry these days. Although I like the image of a clothesline stretched over Dollywood, decked out with Dolly’s sequined outfits…

Actually, we have quite a collection of clothespins right now. Some are the plain wooden kind, left over from a school project last year—and it was a big package! Turns out you can’t just buy ten or five or one clothespin. These critters are pack animals and if you want one, you’re taking home one hundred. Needless to say, seventy five of them have been in the hall cabinet since the day after the school project, waiting for the day when I set them free to play with their peers.

So now I have more than enough clothespins. But once the plain wooden ones were next to their glittery counterparts, the contrast was giant. The wooden ones looked as drab and unflattering as a mugshot, compared with the spangled Vegas show girl clothespins. This would not do. I decided that the plain wooden ones needed some love. And some paint. And rhinestones.

Clothespins are practical. They aren’t intended to be flashy or sexy or the star of the show. But today I’ve put some fun into this functional item. They’re FUNctional!
This outfit is particularly amusing to me because of the irony of clothespins going on top of clothes, as an adornment. These pins aren’t attaching clothes to a line—they’re covering fabric. They’re not hanging the laundry out—they’re just hanging out.
And if you’re going to wear clothespins on your clothes, you might as well make a clothespin mohawk while you’re at it. A few months ago I made a Minion mohawk, which was great fun, but today’s mohawk is just as delightful to wear. Sometimes a mohawk makes the person wearing it look intimidating, but when it’s made of colorful clothes pins, I think the effect is more playful than scary.
Cost break down for this outfit:
Clothes pins (wooden ones I already had)             $      0
Glittery clothes pins (from thrift store)                  $ 2.99
More clothes pins (wooden)                                    $ 2.00
Hot glue sticks                                                             $   .70
Dress (I already had)                                                  $      0
Total                                                                              $ 5.69
You know, this costume has had an unexpected perk: it’s made me consider how to put more fun into laundry time. Maybe it would be more enjoyable if I called it “laun-dress up.” The next time I’m doing laundry I’m going to put on a Dolly Parton wig, jewelry, sequins and stilettos and listen to Liberace….

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wacky Wednesday #63—Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea is a divisive subject—up there with religion and politics.

Well, maybe not quite as controversial as those two, but nearly.

Some people love it. But those who don’t like it really don’t like it.

People who have had to remove a wall of bougainvillea from a house don’t feel sentimental about it. One guy in particular has no fond memories of the long, sharp thorns growing off the wall of bougainvillea he once removed. Thorns draw blood. Scrapes heal but one doesn’t forget those thorns.

But let’s get back to the present. This week’s theme is bougainvillea, and if we set aside its tendency to draw blood, it’s a beautiful plant worth celebrating.

Wearing flowers as decoration is not my invention, of course. Hawaiians wear them all the time. Balinese headdresses can include flowers. I love the cultural costumes that are an explosion of color. I hadn’t seen anyone wear bougainvillea and since it is such a joyful splash of color, I decided to use it as an accessory today. I made a birdcage-shaped beehive hat from pipe cleaners, and hot glued felt petals onto it, and then added some real bougainvillea to that. Same for my necklace.

Bougainvillea comes in various shades, as you probably know. Subtlety isn’t my thing, so I like the really bright ones best. I love how this plant produces a canopy of color, easily seen from long distances. It’s bold! It’s bright! It’s a burst of cheer, and it brings beauty to its surroundings.
This is the pipe cleaner structure I made for my beehive, in progress.
Here's the beehive completed.
Like the colorful leaves of poinsettia (Wacky Wednesday theme #37), bougainvillea’s magenta "flowers "are actually leaves. The flower itself is a tiny white bloom, but the bright leaves look like flowers to me.

If you’ve read my blog before you know that I get giddy by making an outfit for free, or close to it. Here’s the breakdown on what this week’s costume set me back:


Tank top and skirt (already had)                       $     0

Real bougainvillea from our yard                     $     0

Felt for fabric bougainvillea                              $1.17

Pipe cleaners for bougainvillea beehive        $  .60

Hot glue sticks                                                    $  .50


TOTAL                                                                   $2.27

True, I didn’t make a dress from scratch, as I’ve done at times. But for me, the fun of this week’s look was in constructing a bougainvillea beehive. It’s delightful to wear something large and unexpected on my head and making my beehive was major fun. I like how my hair (purple this week, with highlights of bougainvillea magenta) even blends into the ‘hive. Coincidence? You decide.