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Winter Duck Enclosure – Functional Rustic Approach

The Muscovy Ducks of Functional Rustic have a new enclosure for the winter. Everyone is very excited.

3 Muscovy Drakes

Last year I only had a handful of ducks so one barn stall was sufficient to house them. This year though, I have 12 large ducks to care for. I could eat some of them and keep the smaller stall, but I’ve had a lot of animal deaths this year and am not keen on adding to the list.



(Did you know that Muscovy Ducks taste more like beef than typical a water fowl? Muscovy ducks spend most of their time on land eating grass – same as cows. Although Muscovy do have water proofing oils, because they do not spend as much time in the water as other water birds they produce less oil and therefor taste differently.)

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My chief complaint with the duck set up in the barn last year was the lack of proper lighting. There is a small window in the stall and a light bulb but, with the barn closed up it is very dark in the barn during the winter months. In order to keep the barn some what insulted in the cold Michigan winters I covered all of the openings with roofing paper last year. (I only used the roofing paper because I found a roll of it in the barn when we moved in. It was free and available so I made it work.) The roofing paper is black though, and blocked all of the sun light into the barn.



This year I wanted to make sure that if the ducks could not or did not want to go out in the snow they would still have lots of natural light. Added bonus, natural light in the stall means duck pictures and videos turn out better! To achieve this increased light while still keeping the barn insulated I chose to wrap the entire back of the barn with 6 mil plastic sheeting.

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The back of the Functional Rustic barn is a covered area with the south and east walls open to the outdoors. I hung the 6 mil plastic across all of the openings and secured it to the walls/ground with a carpentry stapler. I chose 6 mil plastic sheets because I wanted a plastic that was durable enough to endure Michigan weather but not too heavy to hang with staples. The 6 mil plastic sheeting works perfectly. Plus, it’s clear so the sunlight pours into the enclosure.




It is my hope that the clear plastic will provide some solar heating. The idea is that the warm sun rays will come into the barn and the plastic will keep the heat inside. I don’t expect it to be warm in the winter – but if I can keep the stall above freezing I would be thrilled.

Duck Enclosure Flooring

One of the new stalls off the back has rubber mat flooring that I added straw to while the other stall off the back of the barn has only a dirt floor. Last year I used the dirt floor of the duck stall to make compost. It worked splendidly. The poop was controlled, no bad smells and the floor actually gave off some heat.

The original duck floor consisted of dirt, straw, leaves and landscaping scraps. I added new layers as needed and mixed everything together to turn it into a compost floor. The ducks helped keep it mixed up by digging around in the floor for bugs. My pile of composting material on the floor started at about six inches deep. Over the past year of adding layers and housing ducks, the floor is a beautiful, rich compost nearly one foot deep. I plan to use my duck compost in the spring to plant the Functional Rustic orchard.



The plan with this year’s new dirt stall was to repeat what I did last year in the original duck stall. That was the plan. Ha. Michigan weather decided I needed a different approach this year. Functional Rustic is lucky to have acres of fallen leaves to collect and add to the compost pile. The kicker though, is the leaves need to be dry for me to use them.

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Well, Michigan has seen a fair amount of rain and now snow. I never collected the dry leaves. That’s a big problem for my compost floor. The snowfall over the weekend melted yesterday so the plan today was to rake up the leaves and store them in a dry place until they could be used.



Two inches of snow last night. Ugh. It looks beautiful and the ducks are adorable running through it – but the snow officially ends the search for leaves. So, today I started digging up the original compost floor. You see, the ducks have three stalls they can explore now. The rubber mat area, the new dirt area and the original duck stall. Since adding the plastic though, I have yet to see the ducks spend time in the original stall beyond using it to get outdoors.

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Well, if they wont be spending much time in the old stall – I don’t need that floor to be heated by compost. So, today I started digging up the original stall and moving the compost to the new plastic enclosed dirt area off the back of the barn. It is not as visually pleasing as fresh straw, but the coverage it provides is impressive. Plus, the floor I dug up is full of bugs that the ducks are having a grand old time hunting down. I continue to add layers of straw each day to promote more composting, keep the ducks feet dry and warm and to control the poop smells.



Duck Enclosure Walls

Initially hanging the plastic only took 30 minutes. However, the next few weeks involved lots of small fixes to make it just right. First of all, Muscovy Ducks have claws. When the plastic was first installed the ducks did not know what to make of it and tried flying through it. Ha. Amusing as it was to watch – they understandably freaked out when they hit the plastic and scratched at it with their claws. Needless to say, there are more than a few gashes repaired with duct tape.

The ducks aren’t the only ones flying into the plastic. There are a couple families of barn swallows living in there too. Despite the plastic being up for a few weeks now, the little sparrows continue to fly full speed into the plastic. It was funny at first but now I just feel bad for them. Someone is going to get hurt. I will say though, it is adorable to see 6 huge ducks on a wall with a family of tiny barn swallows perched beside them.

Fixing cuts in the plastic from sharp duck claws was the least of my problems. Wind was the bigger issue. The day we hung the plastic there was only a slight wind so everything seemed secure. Less than 24 hours later the wind was up to 40 mph gusts. Whole walls of plastic were falling off. Ugh.

When we (my husband and I) originally hung the plastic we placed the staples about 12 to 18 inches apart. Although the plastic was flat against the wall when it was stapled, the large gaps between the staples allowed wind to come in and blow the plastic around.

The bottom of the plastic sheeting was held down by stones and pavers. One big wind and the plastic slid out from underneath the stones as if they were pebbles. I found heavier items to hold down the bottom of the plastic, but since I still had the gaps in my stapling, wind was still coming in and causing the wind to whip around inside the stall – again causing the bottom to slide out and blow around.

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On another particularly windy day, I went out to the barn and examined where the wind was coming in. That is when I learned that my staples were to far apart. I immediately got the stapler and started stapling everything I could reach. That plastic was secure!! Having secured the plastic to the top and sides of the openings I thought I was all set.

Nope.


The plastic may be securely attached at the top, but the bottom is still loose. The stones and pavers are ok if the wind stays below 30 mph, but it’s Michigan, so that’s not going to happen. Again, I spent an hour just sitting in the duck stall trying to learn how the wind was moving around within the barn.

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As it happens, the wind is not actually getting into the barn. Apparently the plastic, although securely attached, is loose instead of taut so even if the staples hold strong, the plastic flaps back and forth. The flapping is what causes the stones to slide off the sheeting.

No amount of staples and stones was going to do the trick. The openings I am covering are over 12 ft x 12 ft. I need some sort of support in the middle to provide stability to the plastic. As it happens, I have a bunch of wire around the barn. The fencing around their enclosure came bound together with long pieces metal wire. I stretched that wire across the opening and duct taped it to the plastic on both sides.



Shockingly, it worked. Now that the plastic had the stiff wire in the middle I was able to get it to lay flush against the flat surfaces so it can be attached. Now the sheeting was able to pulled taut. Before stabilizing the plastic, even a small breeze caused the plastic move in or out. Stapling the plastic while it is blowing makes the final product flappy.

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No longer trusting the stones and pavers, I replace them with a wooden pallets. The pallets are heavier than the stones AND I can staple the plastic directly to it. Now the plastic is weighed down by the pallet while also being attached to it. Now when the wind blows the plastic barely moves at all.

It has been about week since I made the last repairs and I am proud to report that despite, strong winds, heavy rains and two snow falls – the enclosure is still in great shape. Also, the inside of the barn has remained consistently warmer than the outside. I am quite proud of what I accomplished.

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Winter Duck Feeding Routine

Another new change is how I feed the feather babies. Normally I pour their feed into a feeder and let them gorge. Since I secured the plastic walls though, the ducks don’t seem to want to leave. Staying in the barn all day means they are not exercising as much. To help keep them active I now distribute the food everywhere and make them hunt for it.

Spreading the food out forces the ducks to move around, keeps them from standing and pooping all day in the same spot and helps the compost floor to be turned regularly. Another benefit of spreading the food out is that everyone gets to eat at the same time. There is most definitely a pecking order in my barn. With one feeder, breakfast becomes a time for ducks to get bullied. I don’t like seeing the bigger ducks be mean to Larry and the smaller lady ducks. I know that this behavior is natural and healthy for ducks, but if I can prevent it from happening I will.

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I am pleased to report that since implementing this new approach Larry is looking much better as well. He was looking rough before – dirty, missing feathers and a generally an unkempt appearance. He’s a white duck that was coated brown with dirt. Poor guy looked miserable. Now, Larry is looking happy, bright and clean. He still gets picked on and chased around, but at least he has mouthfuls of food available wherever they chase him. (Interesting side note, Larry’s only son, Prodigy, is the duck that harasses him the most.)



In any case, the new enclosure has made for some happy feather babies and one very happy feather baby mama. Check out the videos below to see how the build enclosure progressed and how much the ducks love playing in it.

Written by: Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

Did you know Functional Rustic offers more than just stories about the Muscovy Ducks? Support local business and save money with handmade décor from the Functional Rustic Store. Below are some examples of what you can expect to find.

 

“Bark Spoken Here” Wooden Ornament

"Bark Spoken Here" Wooden Ornament by Functional Rustic is handcrafted from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint. Twine is used to hang the ornament. Free Shipping.

$10.00

 

3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder – Red

3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder from Functional Rustic adds a rustic elegance to any space. The 3 Tier Tea Light Candle Holder is made from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted. Free Shipping.

$15.00

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My First Craft Show as a Merchant – Functional Rustic

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Shopping at craft shows makes for a memorable day but, participating in a craft show from the other side of the table is a whole new experience.

My husband and I moved out to the country away from our lifelong suburban lifestyle in the summer of 2017. The physical move to a place I always dreamed of living inspired me to make very conscious changes to the rest of my life too.

Healthy self. Heal thy self.
Healthy self. Heal thy self.

Part of those conscious changes was focusing on what brings me joy and building the rest of my life around that concept. I find joy in being surrounded by nature, learning new things and inspiring others.

I am happy. Functional Rustic provides me the opportunity to intentionally live the life I want to live – a peaceful life. Peace and serenity, though they feel good, do not pay the bills.

Enter the Craft Show.

Craft Shows

I love shopping at craft shows. As a shopper it is exciting to see booth after booth of handmade crafts. Each booth is different and I never know what I will find.  Also, most of the people selling the craft actually made the craft themselves. In what other context do you have the chance to meet face-to-face with the person that built what you’re buying?

As a social person that enjoys learning, attending a craft fair is the perfect day for me. A craft fair affords me the opportunity to engage with people about something for which they have a passion. Every crafter has a story to tell; how they did it, why they did it. Seeing their passion as they share their story inspires me to seek the same for myself.

Art is not what you see, its what you make others see.
Art is not what you see, it’s what you make others see.

Also, anything bought at a craft fair immediately becomes a conversation piece. “Check out this unique table I bought at the craft show last weekend”. “Remember that day at the annual craft show when we bought that salvaged barn wood sign?” “Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen anything like that before!” “Such a clever way to repurpose those items”.

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Back to Nature Tea Light Holder from Functional Rustic. Made from salvaged wood, pine cones, twigs and hand painted stones.

In addition to the stories behind each item I create, there is also a story behind how each of those items got before the customers eyes. This is the story of how I went from craft show shopper to craft show merchant in pursuit of the life I always dreamed of living.

How I signed up for the Craft Show

I created an online store on the Functional Rustic website as well as an Etsy store. However, craft shows are the most effective place to sell crafts, especially when just starting out.

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Functional Rustic salvages wood and other unique items to create Rustic Décor. www.FunctionalRustic.com

A friend of my sister, Tina, is also a creator and heard about what I was doing. Honestly, I do not recall if I initially reached out to her or if she reached out to me. What I do know is the universe worked it’s magic to put us in each other’s lives.

Tina shared that she was being pressured by friends and family to sell her art at the Berkley Days Craft Fair. Knowing that I too was entering the crafting scene and needed a venue to sell my goods, she invited me to join her.

Craft show booths need to be signed up for in advance. Most craft shows have their booths rented months in advance of the actual show. So, if you want to participate in craft shows you need to plan ahead and book early. 

Success occurs when opportunity meets preperation
Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.

We agreed to split the cost of the booth. From my initial research you can expect to pay between $100 and $400 to rent a booth at a craft show for a weekend. The booth size was large so it was no problem to combine our items into the same space. Also, both of us generally work alone. If I did not pair up with her I would be by myself for the entire weekend and so would she.

As far as the actual sign up, Tina handled all of that. As I understand she just emailed the coordinator and said we wanted a booth. Since it is a juried show we included some pictures of our items as well as a brief description of what we sell. Once we were approved payment was sent. The whole process was actually very easy.

Juried craft shows mean that the venue wants to preview what you are selling. This enables them to do quality control up front to ensure that items being sold are appropriate for the venue. For example: Selling nude sculptures at a children’s craft fair would be inappropriate.

Preparing for the Craft Show

I did not have to worry about creating a bunch of items specifically to sell at the craft show because I already had an inventory on hand for my online store. Instead of creating new products I focused on building my business presence online in order to later promote the craft show.

Although I was not actively working on tasks for the show itself I was always thinking about it. I can’t even count the number of times I walked past the shelves I built and tried to imagine how I could show them off in my display. I also drew out blue prints for the various ways the booth could be set up. (As it turns out I did not actually use any of the designs I thought of before hand. Ha.)

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I wanted to make sure that the set up encouraged people to engage with the merchandise and had a natural flow to it. This is an easy thing to say but much harder to actually create. Having spent years attending shows though, I had an idea of what kind of set up I enjoy interacting with and tried to replicate that.

Below you can watch Prodigy, Muscovy Duckling of Functional Rustic, helping me prepare.

I also had to figure out how to actually display my items. I create furniture and home décor. Specifically I was selling shelves, signs and candle holders. The shelves were great at displaying the candles but when I sell the shelf I have no where to display the rest of my products. Also, how do I display my signs?

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Functional Rustic salvages wood and other unique items to create Rustic Home Décor. www.FunctionalRustic.com

In my head I worked out elaborate tables and displays I could build out of pallet wood. It was gorgeous. As I was creating the display in my mind I was provided the opportunity to participate in a yard sale. The yard sale provided me the perfect chance to field test my display ideas. Read about my first yard sale here.

I learned a lot about what worked and what didn’t work through selling at the yard sale. Building off of that knowledge I felt better prepared to actually start the build process for my craft show display.

Making the Craft Show Display

Making a craft show display is no different than making an in-store or window display. Catching the attention of those walking by is critical. I agonized over this. I researched and re-researched effective display techniques.

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The beginning stages of building my craft show display table for www.FunctionalRustic.com

I had a display all worked out in my mind …. and then I read the guidelines for the show. I didn’t even know there were rules. Ha. Some of the rules were having table cloths down to the floor, covering all your tables at the end of the night and bringing your own fire extinguisher. Theses were understandable requests but I had to make some major tweaks to the table design with my new found information.

Be sure to read all of the guidelines associated with a show before signing up. Every show has their own set of rules and requirements. It can be frustrating to have to look for a fire extinguisher or change a table display at the last minute. Also, the size of your the booths vary from show to show so make sure your display fits in your assigned space.

The yard sale let me work out the kinks in displaying my shelves and candle holders so the actual table where I display my signs and ornaments was the priority.

 

In order to capture attention I wanted to make sure I had color contrast. I achieved this by draping brown burlap over the sides of the table and placing a stunning, hand woven white table cloth across the top.

I still needed a way to display my signs though. I chose the burlap to play off of the rustic theme of Functional Rustic and I decided to use chicken wire to hang the signs off the side of the table.

I drilled holes in the side of the table so that I could attach the chicken wire with bolts. The combination of the burlap, chicken fencing and hand made table cloth really encompassed the look I was going for.

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I drilled holes in the side of the Oyster Table so I could attach my chicken wire to hang my signs from. www.FunctionalRustic.com

This look also provided a lot of texture and dimension. I’m sure there is a psychology behind why texture is effective – all I know is it works. Soft fabric table cloth, rough fabric burlap, cold metal fencing, warm wooden shelves and brightly hand painted wooden décor. Everything about it says “touch me” which is the look I was going for.

Related to providing dimension – I needed to add varying heights too. To accomplish this I built display stands to hang my signs on. (These stands are also great for displaying jewelry and to be used as a phone charging station.) The stands were colored with either white or red deck stain so in addition to height on the table I also had color contrast.

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Multi Function Indoor/Outdoor Display Stands by Functional Rustic. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Colors are important in a good display. If I’m being honest, I continue to struggle with this. For this craft show at least, I relied on the contrasting colors of my shelves the different colors of the candle holders to provide pops of color to my display. The key with properly utilizing color in your display is to capture the attention of whoever is walking past. Contrast draws people’s attention.

Setting Up for the Craft Show

The first day of the show was a Friday evening. They allowed the merchants to come set up starting in the early afternoon. I arrived as early as possible. I needed every minute of the set up time so I’m glad I arrived early. It takes quite a bit of time to carry items from the drop off zone all the way to the booth. I did not account for carrying time when I scheduled my set up.

The biggest hinderance for setting up my display was the items themselves. The shelves are not light or fun to move long distances alone. I still want to sell them but in the future I will likely only try to sell one or two at a time instead of six of them.

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Pallet Shelving by Functional Rustic. Big storage for small spaces. www.FunctionalRustic.com

When creating your display remember that you will have to set up your display, then take down and carry out your display out a few days later. And, you have limited time to set up so, a very elaborate display may not be recommended. My shelves may look great but, logistically I need another approach.

What I found most surprising was how different the space looked than I had envisioned. I staged my items at home many times before actually arriving at the show. However, when everything was set up and the back drop of all the other booths was there – it looked a lot different than I thought it would.

 

Let the Show Begin

It is 5 pm on Friday and the doors are officially open. My display is set up but I continue to fuss with it. Move this over an inch and swap that sign for this one.

I was actually expecting a flood of people to pour into the show as soon as the clock hit 5. (This was an indoor craft show.) That didn’t happen. The experienced crafters said that the turn out this year was very low. Apparently this is usually a profitable venue but, for whatever reason, the people just weren’t coming in the door this year.

 

Having very little foot traffic provided me the opportunity to get to know Tina better. We had crossed paths a few times before but never actually had a real conversation until that day. Needless to say, I really like her and I understand why my sister became her friend. Also, I love her work.

Where as I repurpose items with the intention of giving them a new function, Tina repurposes with the intention of saving items from landfill. She turns miscellaneous items into impressive works of art and jewelry. Our crafts really compliment each other.

Despite not having the foot traffic I was hoping for, I still had the opportunity to engage with a lot of people. I also sold enough to make back my booth rental fee plus a couple bucks. I’m proud and consider it a success.

People watching is fun. People watching as a merchant at a craft fair is more fun. My instinct when I encounter someone is to look them in the eye and smile. In my day to day life this is a good quality. It’s actually a good quality in sales too but, the responses it gets when I’m in the merchant role are amusing.

Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.
Always believe something wonderful is about to happen.

Don’t get me wrong, many people smile back and/or say hello. However, people ignore vendors in a lot of different ways. Most people just do the “eyes down on the products never make eye contact” approach. Others accidently make eye contact but play it off as something across the room that has them so distracted they cannot see or hear anything else. And a shocking number of people suddenly need to examine the entire contents of their purse or pocket after making eye contact with a merchant. Did you know that making eye contact with a smiling person selling something causes the person to suddenly notice all the lint on their clothes? Ha. My favorite is, in response to a simple smile and a Hi, “uh, I’m just looking.” and then they literally turn their back to me and continue to admire the merchandise. It’s fascinating.

I don’t take it personally. I’ve done all of these things at some point in my life. I get it. People don’t want to be sold something. I know I don’t. That’s why I don’t try to get people to buy things. Of course, an argument could be made that me not trying to sell things is why people are not buying them. Hmmm…..

The problem is not the problem, the problem is
The problem is not the problem, the problem is your attitude to the problem.

People did buy things though. And many more provided unprompted praise for the craftsmanship and creativity. My ego loved it.

However, I still had doubts about the prices due to so few sales so far that weekend. So, on the last day of the show when a customer asked the price for an item I provided the listed price and added “or whatever you think – make me an offer.”

He immediately and sternly responded, “No. Your price is your price. This is the price you want for it and that’s what I will pay.” He then said he would be back later to buy it. I felt great about what he said but assumed I would never see him again after he left. Well, not only did he return he also bought TWO signs at full price. Apparently I’m doing something right!

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Rustic Furniture and Home Décor from Functional Rustic. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Another ego boost came when a couple stopped by and asked if I sold my shelves in the art gallery down the street. Don’t get me wrong, I like the shelf and think it’s pretty and very functional, but art? What an amazing compliment to receive. An art gallery is for “real” artists. Especially for someone just entering the arts/crafts scene hearing feedback like that is incredible.

People First

As much as participating in the craft show is about selling my creations and making money, it is also about introducing my brand and spreading awareness for the Functional Rustic website. This is where I had the most fun.

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A frequent ice breaker I used with shoppers was to ask if they do Do-It-Yourself projects. If they say yes then I ask about what they create. This approach enabled me to see many pictures of impressive projects from tiki bars to decorative soap to ball gowns.

Every single person that shared their DIY story did so with a huge smile & sense of pride. For a few minutes I got to share that moment with them. I smiled with them when they discussed overcoming this obstacle or gifting that craft to their loved one. Then I encourage them to go to my website if they are looking for ideas for new projects or I send them to DIY Projects of Facebook where they can share pictures and stories from their DIY endeavors.

Sell the problem you solve, not the product.
Sell the problem you solve, not the product.

For the shoppers that report not being a DIYer I ask what is something they always wanted to try. Generally I get to know them and their interests. At some point I will have the opportunity to naturally transition the conversation to telling them about Functional Rustic Tutorials. “Never did a do-it-yourself project? Now you can with a tutorial from Functional Rustic.” Promoting the craft tutorials is huge for parents of young kids. They can’t take my card fast enough when I say I have free easy crafts to do. Ha.

Not only did I get to meet many dynamic and interesting people I was also able to promote the website in a way that addressed their personal interests. Instead of just saying “check out my website” I can refer them to a particular blog post or a specific video of the Muscovy ducks.

End of the Show

I spent the weekend at the craft fair working my booth. For that reason, I was unable to shop at the craft fair or really talk to any of the other crafters. My biggest regret from the show was not connecting with other merchants more.

For some reason I thought that when the show was over I was going to have a chance to chat up some of the other people participating in the show. I don’t know why I thought that. The show is over. I’m tired. I’m far from home. I want to go and so does everyone else.

TIP: Network during the show when things are slow instead of after when everyone is busy trying to leave.

Packing everything up to go home was actually pretty straight forward. So much quicker to take apart the display than to set it up. It was also a treat to watch how seasoned craft show people take apart their displays. In a matter of minutes they have everything packed up into plastic totes and are ready to load into the car. This is not their first rodeo!

 

Overall, I am very happy about how my first craft show. I met interesting people, learned helpful feedback for my business and made a profit! I thought participating in a craft show as a shopper was interesting but, being on the other side of the table is an even more exciting experience!

Written by Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

 

Wooden Thank You Card AQUA BLUE

Measures 3.5 in x 3.5 in x 5/8 in. The handmade Wooden Thank You Card by Functional Rustic is the unique thank you gift you didn’t know you were looking for until now. The Functional Rustic Wooden Thank You Card is small enough to fit in your pocket and durable enough to take with you wherever you go. PLUS, the Wooden Thank You Card is made from a salvaged wood shipping pallet and then hand painted with oil paints. Every single Wooden Thank You Card is unique making each card a truly one-of-a-kind expression of gratitude.

$10.00

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T-Shirt Rope Toy DIY Tutorial from Functional Rustic

Don’t throw away those old t-shirts until you read this!

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T-Shirt Rope Toy Tutorial from Functional Rustic. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Chewing on things appears to be our rescue dog’s favorite thing to do. And oh boy can she chew. She was given at least six dog toys at her first Christmas and by Valentines Day they were all destroyed. Maintaining her chewing habit was going to cost us a fortune! Unable to find a rope toy that could stand up to her mighty mouth I decided to make my own.

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Use T-Shirts to make toys for your dog or cat. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Using only t-shirts and scissors I created handmade toys for my animals.

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Rope Toy made from T-Shirts. www.FunctionalRustic.com

I grabbed a pair of scissors and a t-shirt from the good will donation pile and was on my way. My first attempt took longer than I care to admit but by the second I was a pro. Everyone got handmade dog toys that year!
You can create your own handmade gift for the animal in your life. Making a durable rope toy is not only easy but practically FREE! Keep reading and/or watch the video at the bottom to learn how I did it.
T-Shirt Rope Toy Tutorial from Functional Rustic
Materials
Old T-Shirt
Scissors
Approx. 15 minutes to complete
Directions
Step One:
Laying T-Shirt on a flat surface, use the scissors to cut from the bottom corner of the shirt up the seam to the sleeves. Do this on both sides of the shirt.

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Cut from the bottom corner of the shirt up to the sleeve. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Step Two:
Cut along the seams of each sleeve to remove the sleeves from the shirt.

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Cut along the seams of each sleeve. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Step Three:
Cut along the seam on the shoulder. At this point you should have two sleeves, a front and a back.

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Remove sleeves but cutting along the seams. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Step Four:
Set the sleeves aside. Cut the front and the back of the shirt into strips. Start at the shoulder and cut down to the bottom of the shirt. The strips should be at least an inch wide but could be as large as one third of the front or back of a shirt. I wanted to make several toys so I made my strips smaller.

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Cut the T-Shirt into strips. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Step Five:
Choose three of the fabric strips you just cut and tie the ends together.

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Select the 3 pieces of fabric you want to use. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Tie the ends of two strips together with a double knot and then tie the third strip to the knot. At this point there should be a lot of fabric hanging down one side and only three small pieces at the top. Continue to tie the small pieces to one another so you have a couple double knots on the top.

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Tie two pieces of fabric together at the ends. www.FunctionalRustic.com
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Tie the third piece of fabric to the first two. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Tie everything as TIGHT as you can. With each knot, tug on all the fabric strips. Tug the way your dog would to ensure it is secure. If your short ends are too short to make many double knots it’s no problem, your original knots connecting the three strips together should be strong enough.

Tip: To ensure a tight start to the braid, wrap one of the strips around your toe (or another small secure item) before you start the braid. Watch the video for more information.

Step Six:
Braid the strips of fabric together. Braid them TIGHT! The braid should be so tight that it becomes stiff. In addition to the tight braid you will also need to add a few more knots. Every two or three inches you will want to tie some more knots. (Ex. tie strip A to strip B then tie strip C to strip A then tie strip C to strip B. How you tie the strips together is less important as the knot securing the braid above it.)

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Braid the strips together. www.FunctionalRustic.com
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Tie knots every few inches. www.FunctionalRustic.com
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Leave the ends long to make tassels. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Step Seven:
You should still have quite a bit of fabric hanging down.

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Continue to braid and tie knots every few inches. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Continue to tightly braid the strips and add knots as needed for stability. Once you get toward the end of the fabric you will want to save some fabric so you can tie several more knots.

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Adding knots in the braid helps to keep it secure. www.FunctionalRustic.com

The knots at the end keep the braid in place and provide a hand/mouth hold.

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Rope toy made from repurposed t-shirts. www.FunctionalRustic.com
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Valencia Merble the Dog loves her rope toy. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Step Eight: (optional)
Add a handle for your dog rope to make it even more unique. Remember that small gap that was created when you wrapped the fabric piece around something small but secure? Well, using the discarded shirt sleeves and that hole you can add handle.

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Adding a handle keeps your hand safe from teeth and drool. www.FunctionalRustic.com
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Adding a handle keeps you from having to bend over to play with your furry friend. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Take the seam of one of the sleeves and push it through the little hole. This will be tough because the hole should not be very big. Once the seam is all the way through you should have one part of the sleeve hole on each side of the toy. Grab one of the sleeve ends and pull it through the hole on the other side. Once you pull it tight it should form a secure handle that looks like the sleeve.

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Thread one of the sleeves through the “toe hole”. www.FunctionalRustic.com
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Use the t-shirt sleeve as a handle. www.FunctionalRustic.com

If you are willing to sacrifice a few t-shirts you can make some very colorful chew toys for your furry friend. Although these toys are durable they are also very light. Makes for a great cat toy too!

Watch the T-Shirt Rope Toy Video Tutorial from Functional Rustic


Written by: Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

Originally Published at www.FunctionalRustic.com

Written by Sarah Palmer, Owner – Functional Rustic

Did you know Functional Rustic provides more than just Tutorials? Find out what others already know by shopping in the Functional Rustic Store.

Below are just a few of the handcrafted items available.

 

“Happy Holidays” Wooden Ornament

“Happy Holidays” Wooden Ornament by Functional Rustic is handcrafted from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint. Twine is used to hang the ornament. Free Shipping.

$10.00

 

 

3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder – Black

3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder from Functional Rustic adds a rustic elegance to any space. The 3 Tier Tea Light Candle Holder is made from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted. Free Shipping.

$15.00

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Reciprocating Saw TUTORIAL from Functional Rustic

Power tools are fun. Power tools that can destroy a piece of lumber in seconds are even more fun. With this sentiment in mind, Functional Rustic is proud to present this week’s DIY Tutorial teaching you the basics of a reciprocating saw and how to safely use a reciprocating saw to break apart a wooden shipping pallet.

Title Page Saw tutorial
How to Use a Reciprocating Saw: DIY Tutorial from Functional Rustic www.FunctionalRustic.com

The reciprocating saw is a small yet powerful tool that will make quick work of any boards that need to be rough cut. In addition to being effective it is also fairly straight forward to work with.

There are three main parts to a reciprocating saw.

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There are three main components of a reciprocating saw: saw blade, battery and saw. www.FunctionalRustic.com

3 Main Parts of Reciprocating Saw

1. Saw Blade

There are different sizes and uses for reciprocating saw blades. Some saw blades are intended for metal while others are better for wood. Also, you will find that the blades come in various sizes. Use which ever blade is most appropriate for your project.

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Reciprocating Saw Blade. www.FunctionalRustic.com

You many notice that my saw blade is silver and white. When new, the blade was white. However, the paint wears away the more it is used and that is why my blade has two colors.

When I first started cutting pallet wood with the reciprocating saw I used the longer saw blade. The blade became bent and unusable – I suspect that my body movements in reaction to the force of the saw caused the longer blade to bend. For that reason, I plan to only use the longer blades for thicker pieces of wood instead of on the thinner pallet boards.

2. Battery

The typical reciprocating saw uses an 18.0 volt battery or has a power cord attached. Battery operated saws allow for more mobility than the corded saw but have a limited supply of energy and need to be recharged often. My battery usually dies after a couple pallets so if I am breaking down more than two or three pallets than I need back up batteries. Fortunately it was not difficult to find multi-pack replacements online.

Once I learned how to attach and remove the 18.0 volt battery using the saw was quick and easy. Before I was taught how to do it though, I had quite a bit of awkward fumbling.

First, not all batteries look the same. The ones I have pictured have two different colors which make finding the release buttons easy. The first battery I encountered was solid black and the button was not as obvious.

Second, not all 18.0 volt batteries are the same size. In fact, the replacement batteries I have shown are rather large and awkward to handle with my hand size – perfectly normal hand size – compared to the original Ryobi batter that came with the saw.

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18.0 Volt Battery. www.FunctionalRustic.com

The black portion of the battery is the bottom and the yellow part is what is inserted into the saw. Inserting the battery simply involves putting the yellow part into the battery hole in the bottom of the saw.

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Insert 18.0 Volt battery into the bottom of the reciprocating saw. www.FunctionalRustic.com

To remove the battery from the saw you need to press both of the release buttons on the battery and pull the battery out of the saw. The release buttons are yellow on my batteries. As pictured above, to remove the battery I squeeze both the yellow buttons while also pulling up on the battery.

3.Reciprocating Saw

There are five components of the reciprocating saw that you need to be familiar with in order to use it.

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There are five main components to a reciprocating saw. www.FunctionalRustic.com

5 Reciprocating Saw Components

1. The Battery Location
The battery is inserted into the bottom of the saw handle. There will be a hole for the 18.0 Volt battery to plug in.

2. The Power Button
The power button is located on the handle of the reciprocating saw. To turn the saw on and move the blade you squeeze the button. The harder you squeeze the button the faster the saw cuts.

3. The lock button

The lock button is an important safety precaution. This button slides back and forth and allows you to lock the blade in place. For safety reasons it is always recommended that the saw be locked when not in use. The button is located on the top of the saw and slides right and left.

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Locked Reciprocating Saw. www.FunctionalRustic.com

The picture above shows a saw that is locked as demonstrated by the closed lock icon. When the button is moved to the right the saw becomes unlocked as show by the open lock icon as demonstrated below.

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This saw blade is in the unlocked position. www.FunctionalRustic.com

4. Saw Blade Release

The saw blade is attached to the reciprocating saw with a saw blade release located toward the front of the saw.

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Fold the blade release up in order to release the blade. www.FunctionalRustic.com

As pictured above, when the saw blade release is folded upward the lock is open and the blade can be inserted or removed. As pictured below, when the saw blade release is closed the blade is securely attached to the saw.

Closed release Tab
Fold the blade release down to lock the blade in place. www.FunctionalRustic.com

5. Saw Blade Location

The saw blade is inserted into the front of the saw. Only when the saw blade release is open can the blade be successfully inserted. The part of the blade that has a hole in it is inserted into front of the reciprocating saw. The teeth, or sharp edges of the saw, should be facing downward. Once the saw blade is properly inserted into the hole the saw blade release can be closed to lock it in place.

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Insert the blade into the front part of the saw. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Safety First!

In addition to knowing about your saw it is also important to practice basic safety anytime you are working with power tools.

1. Wear protective eyewear to keep your eyes safe from flying debris.
2. Avoid baggy clothing so it does not interfere with power tool usage.
3. Wear work gloves to ensure a firm grip on the machinery.
4. If saw dust will be developing than be sure to wear breathing masks.
5. Always cut away from your body to minimize risk of injury.

Now that you know the basics of how the Reciprocating Saw works watch the video below to see how I use it to cut a wooden shipping pallet.

Use the comment section below to provide your feedback.

Written by: Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

 

Wooden Thank You Card RED

Measures 3.5 in x 3.5 in x 5/8 in. The handmade Wooden Thank You Card by Functional Rustic is the unique thank you gift you didn’t know you were looking for until now. The Functional Rustic Wooden Thank You Card is small enough to fit in your pocket and durable enough to take with you wherever you go. PLUS, the Wooden Thank You Card is made from a salvaged wood shipping pallet and then hand painted with oil paints. Every single Wooden Thank You Card is unique making each card a truly one-of-a-kind expression of gratitude.

$10.00

Posted on 3 Comments

Ducklings Are Missing – A Functional Rustic Barn Story

I’ve lost 3 out of 4 of my ducklings.

Goldie with 4 Ducklings
Goldie, Muscovy hen, with four ducklings.

A few weeks ago my Muscovy hen, Goldie, hatched out four adorable ducklings. Three yellow chicks and one brown. Goldie is a dedicated mama duck and has spent the past few weeks tentatively caring for her babies. They follow her everywhere. Such a privilege to watch her teach them how to eat, drink and be a duck.

Check out the videos below to see what I mean.

 

Like I said at the start of this post, I’ve lost 3 out of the 4 ducklings. By lost I do not mean they died (though they probably did); I mean that I do not know where they are.

Each morning, as the sun is rising, I head out to the barn to tend to the ducks. This routine involves opening all the doors to the barn and the doors to the stall that the ducks/ducklings stay the night in. Since their birth, each morning I open the stall Goldie and the ducklings are patiently waiting at the door. I slide the door open and they sprint to the mini pond at the back of the barn. The pitter patter of duckling feet across the floor in the morning is a divine way to start each day.

After the ducks are released I take my daily video of the sunrise over the back pastures and get started on cleaning the barn. I have 16 ducks. They are free range and can go wherever they want, but they choose to hang out in the barn. As a result of their spending all day in the barn they poop all over the barn. 16 ducks worth of poop. So, after the ducks are released from the stall I start hosing down the floors, refilling the pools and giving the ducks their food.

Well, earlier this week I opened the stall and Goldie and her 4 ducklings came running out. As I always do, I immediately filmed the sunrise and then returned to start my morning routine.

Uh oh….I only count three ducks. This happens sometimes. A duckling gets separated from the flock and cries out for mama and then Goldie tracks them down and brings them back. But I don’t hear any duckling chirps. I immediately start searching the barn. The ducklings are little so there are numerous places they could hide or get stuck. I searched them all. No duckling.

What happened to it? Where did it go? If an animal had come in I would have heard the ducks (I do have 16 after all) react in some way. I found no blood. I found no feathers. Goldie did not appear upset. What the duck?!

And then there were three.

The next few days are just like any other – I go to the barn, let the ducks out, clean everything and let them roam free. Goldie and the babies do not leave the barn. They can – but I have not seen them more than three feet away from the barn. I like that they do not wander. Hawks live in the yard and have been very visible lately. Staying near the barn will keep them safe from the flying predators.

The other night when I went to close the barn up I realized another ducklings was missing. There were three feather babies when I let them out in the morning, but as the sun is setting I only count two. Goldie is fiercely protecting the two ducklings she has. Very territorial when I come in to close the stall doors.

But where is her duckling? I search the barn again to see if the baby is stuck somewhere. I found a dead barn swallow and some huge spiders, but no duckling. What the duck?!

So, last night, I tucked Goldie and her two babies into the stall as I always do. This morning – only one duckling.

No blood. No feathers. No corpse. No indication that any predator was in the stall.

What is happening to my ducklings?

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Goldie, Muscovy hen, with her one remaining duckling.

What do you think happened to my feather babies?

Written by Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

 

Wooden Thank You Card ORANGE

Measures 3.5 in x 3.5 in x 5/8 in. The handmade Wooden Thank You Card by Functional Rustic is the unique thank you gift you didn’t know you were looking for until now. The Functional Rustic Wooden Thank You Card is small enough to fit in your pocket and durable enough to take with you wherever you go. PLUS, the Wooden Thank You Card is made from a salvaged wood shipping pallet and then hand painted with oil paints. Every single Wooden Thank You Card is unique making each card a truly one-of-a-kind expression of gratitude.

$10.00

 

 

 

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10 Inspirational Quotes from Functional Rustic 9.25.18

10 Inspirational Quotes from Functional Rustic

10 Inspirational Quotes from Functional Rustic. Follow Functional Rustic and see all that Functional Rustic has to offer. Handcrafted Décor, Quotations, Tutorials and so much more.

  1. Find comfort in the chaos.
Find comfort in the chaos.
Find comfort in the chaos.

2. Females are strong as hell.

Females are strong as hell.
Females are strong as hell.

3. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be grateful.

Thank You for giving me the opportunity to be grateful
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be grateful.

4. Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.

Everything you've ever wanted is on the other side of fear.
Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.

5. Every next level of your life will demand a different you.

Every next level of your life will demand a new version of you
Every next level of your life will demand a different you.

6. Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives wont have a title until much later.

Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives wont have titles until much later.
Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives wont have a title until much later.

7. Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction
Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.

8. Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.

Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It's your masterpiece afterall.
Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.

9. Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.
Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

10. Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.

Don't live the same year 75 times and call it a life.
Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.

Written by Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

Did you know Functional Rustic provides more than just inspirational quotes? Find out what others already know by shopping for handmade gifts in the Functional Rustic Store.

Below is an example of the handcrafted items available.

Wooden Thank You Card PURPLE

Measures 3.5 in x 3.5 in x 5/8 in. The handmade Wooden Thank You Card by Functional Rustic is the unique thank you gift you didn’t know you were looking for until now. The Functional Rustic Wooden Thank You Card is small enough to fit in your pocket and durable enough to take with you wherever you go. PLUS, the Wooden Thank You Card is made from a salvaged wood shipping pallet and then hand painted with oil paints. Every single Wooden Thank You Card is unique making each card a truly one-of-a-kind expression of gratitude.

$10.00

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Belt Sander DIY Video Tutorial from Functional Rustic

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The belt sander is my favorite piece of equipment in the barn. I use it for just about every item I build for the Functional Rustic Store. This week’s DIY Tutorial from Functional Rustic is a video demonstrating how I use the belt sander. You will learn proper safety practices and the techniques I use with the sander to achieve the look I want on the wood.

The video tutorial below will answer any questions you may have about using a belt sander. The only bit of advice I forgot to mention in the video is to use a mask over your mouth to protect from inhaling saw dust. Sanding without a face mask will result in your nostrils and mouth being filled with saw dust. It’s gross. And  it is not at all healthy. I used to use a bandana to cover my mouth/nose, and that was better than nothing at all, but I now have actual wood working face masks.

My only complaint about wearing a face mask is that it causes my eye protection to fog up every time I breathe. I welcome any advice on how to remedy that problem. The protective eye wear is necessary but ultimately useless if I cant see what I’m doing anyways.

Enjoy the Belt Sander DIY Tutorial Video below and let me know what you learned or any advice you have for me going forward.

 

 

Written by: Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

Did you know Functional Rustic provides more than just Tutorials? Find out what others already know by exploring the Functional Rustic Store. Below are a few of the items available that I created using the techniques displayed in the video.

 

Mini Chalk Board – Green by Functional Rustic

The Mini Chalk Board by Functional Rustic is the fun and quirky handmade conversation piece you never knew you needed. The mini chalk board is made form repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint/chalkboard paint. Measurements: 19 in x 3.5 in x 5/8 in.

$15.00

 

“Meow Spoken Here” Wooden Ornament

“Meow Spoken Here” Wooden Ornament by Functional Rustic is handcrafted from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint. Twine is used to hang the ornament. Free Shipping.

$10.00

Posted on Leave a comment

10 Inspirational Quotes from Functional Rustic 9.20.18

10 Inspirational Quotations from Functional Rustic

10 Inspirational Quotes from Functional Rustic. Follow Functional Rustic and see all that Functional Rustic has to offer. Handcrafted Décor, Quotations, Tutorials and so much more.

  1. Never compare yourself to anyone, except the previous you.
Never compare youself to anyone, except the previous you.
Never compare yourself to anyone, except the previous you.

2. I’m letting go…..so I can be free.

I'm letting go....so I can be free.
I’m letting go…..so I can be free.

3. I’m going outside. So if anyone asks, I’m outstanding.

I'm going to stand outside. So if anyone asks I'm oustanding.
I’m going outside. So if anyone asks, I’m outstanding.

4. I’m being murdered by my own mind.

I'm being murdered by my own mind
I’m being murdered by my own mind.

5. I’ll make you smile when you feel weary and lift you up when you feel small. I’ll be right here for you to lean on ’til you feel brave and strong and tall.

I'll make you smile when you feel weary and lift you up when you feel small....
I’ll make you smile when you feel weary and lift you up when you feel small. I’ll be right here for you to lean on ’til you feel brave and strong and tall.

6. If you’re waiting for a sign, this is it.

If you're waiting for a sign this is it.
If you’re waiting for a sign, this is it.

7. If you talk about it, it’s a dream. If you envision it, it’s possible. But if you schedule it, it’s real.

If you talk about it, its a dream. If you envision it....
If you talk about it, it’s a dream. If you envision it, it’s possible. But if you schedule it, it’s real.

8. If you have accomplished all that you have planned for yourself, you have not planned enough.

If you have accomplished all that you planned for yourself, you have not planned enough.
If you have accomplished all that you have planned for yourself, you have not planned enough.

9. If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.

if-you-are-the-smartest-person-in-the-room-you-are-in-the-wrong-room.jpg
If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.

10. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

if-you-are-neutral-in-situations-of-injustice-you-have-chosen-the-side-of-hte-oppressor.jpg
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

Written by Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

Did you know Functional Rustic provides more than just inspirational quotes? Find out what others already know by shopping in the Functional Rustic Store.

Below are just a few of the handcrafted items available.

 

3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder – Orange

3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder from Functional Rustic adds a rustic elegance to any space. The 3 Tier Tea Light Candle Holder is made from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted. Free Shipping.

$15.00

 

“Baby It’s Hot/Cold Outside” 2 sided Wooden Ornament

“Baby It’s Hot/Cold Outside” 2 sided Wooden Ornament by Functional Rustic is handcrafted from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint. Twine is used to hang the ornament. Free Shipping.

$10.00

Posted on 17 Comments

How To Change A Drill Bit DIY Video Tutorial from Functional Rustic

It has been less than a year since I began my DIY journey and I have learned a great deal along the way. It is hard enough finding the inspiration and courage to begin a project, but the added stress of learning how to use the power tools can turn away even the most determined DIYer.

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How to Change a Drill Bit DIY Tutorial from Functional Rustic.

You do not need any special training or experience to start your first DIY project. However, it is very helpful to know the basics regarding the tools you will be using. Functional Rustic is here to help!

I was embarrassed to ask someone to teach me how to change a drill bit. Technically I knew how to do it, but it took me forever each time I tried. I’m starting a wood working business and struggling to use a drill does not provide confidence. Fortunately my husband saw my struggle and realized I was never going to ask for help so he taught me a better way.

Learn from my struggles and approach your next project with confidence.

In this week’s DIY Video Tutorial from Functional Rustic I will teach you how to change a drill bit.

Let me know in the comments below if you found this Tutorial helpful. Be sure to share your next DIY project with other DIY enthusiasts at DIY Projects of Facebook.

Written by Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

Did you know Functional Rustic provides more than just tutorials? Find out what others already know by shopping in the Functional Rustic Store.

Below are just a few of the handcrafted items available.

 

“Quack Spoken Here” Wooden Ornament

“Quack Spoken Here” Wooden Ornament by Functional Rustic is handcrafted from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint. Twine is used to hang the ornament. Free Shipping.

$10.00

 

3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder – Green

3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holder from Functional Rustic adds a rustic elegance to any space. The 3 Tier Tea Light Candle Holder is made from repurposed pallet wood and hand painted. Free Shipping.

$15.00

 

Mini Chalk Board – Green by Functional Rustic

The Mini Chalk Board by Functional Rustic is the fun and quirky handmade conversation piece you never knew you needed. The mini chalk board is made form repurposed pallet wood and hand painted with oil paint/chalkboard paint. Measurements: 19 in x 3.5 in x 5/8 in.

$15.00