How to Make a Pregnancy-Belly Cast

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Immortalize your pregnancy by making a cast of your belly.

Step 1: Lay down a tarp
Lay down a tarp or some newspapers and cover a chair with an old sheet. Making a cast is a messy job.

Step 2: Get materials ready
Set a large bowl of water on the tarp for dipping the strips. Cut the preplastered gauze into strips 12 to 18 inches long, and snip three small squares to cover the belly button – plus six more for the nipples if you’re including breasts in the cast.

Step 3: Prepare the mom-to-be
Have the mother-to-be strip down to a pair of underpants she doesn’t mind getting ruined; then rub petroleum jelly or cocoa butter on all areas you plan to include in the cast. Have her sit at the edge of a chair or stool.

Remind the expectant mom to use the bathroom before the casting begins because she won’t be able to move for about an hour.

Step 4: Begin plastering
Put on a pair of latex gloves. Begin dipping strips into the water and patting them onto the mother’s chest and belly. Use the small squares on the navel and nipples, pressing them gently so they conform to the surface. Avoid covering these areas with larger strips; you want the cast to preserve those shapes.

The cast will be sturdier if you overlap the layers in different directions.

Step 5: Work quickly
Apply at least three layers. Work quickly! The plaster starts drying within minutes.

Step 6: Let it dry
Let the cast dry, which should take 20 to 30 minutes.

Step 7: Remove gently
Gently pull the cast off the mom, and wipe off any excess plaster. Place the cast on the newspapers or tarp, belly-side up, and let it dry for another 48 hours.

Step 8: Even out bumps
Even out bumps with a piece of sandpaper until the cast is smooth.

Step 9: Seal it
Seal the cast by brushing on gesso, a canvas primer you can find in art supply stores. Voila! Your pregnancy belly is preserved for posterity.

Did You Know?
Did you know? Bobbi McCaughey’s waist measured 55 inches when she gave birth to septuplets in November 1997, and her belly was about twice the size of a typical full-term stomach.

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How to Connect Your Laptop to Your Television

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Tired of squinting over your laptop? There are several ways to turn a big-screen TV into your new computer monitor and enjoy video games, web content, and photos like never before.

Step 1: Connect with S-Video
First, connect a video cable – you’ve got several choices. For PC users, an easy option is an S-Video cable. Most PCs and digital televisions are equipped with an S-Video port.

The ends of S-Video cables usually feature either four or seven pins and pinholes. Check your TV and laptop ports to make sure they match.

Step 2: Connect with VGA
If you have an older HDTV, try a VGA cable, which produces better picture quality and works with both Macs and PCs. To connect, turn off your laptop and your TV. Find the trapezoid-shaped VGA outlets on the TV and on your laptop. Once you’re connected, power everything back on.

Macs need a DVI- or mini-DVI-to-VGA adapter to connect the VGA cable.

Step 3: Connect with DVI
You can also connect with a DVI video cable. A DVI connection is a step above VGA in picture quality, but only newer computers and HDTVs come with DVI ports. Connect as with a VGA cable.

Some Macs require a mini-DVI-to-DVI adapter for DVI connections.

Step 4: Connect with HDMI
If your HDTV doesn’t have a DVI connector, use a cable that is HDMI on one end, and DVI on the other to connect to your laptop.

Step 5: Connect audio
Hook up the audio. After you’ve connected your laptop to the TV via video cable, connect the mini-to-RCA cable from your computer’s headphone jack to your TV.

Step 6: Use a wireless converter
A final PC option is to go wireless, using a converter box and the software that comes with it. Using a VGA cable, plug the box into your TV and install the software onto your computer. The box will then convert your computer’s VGA signal to the TV, and transfer both video and audio.

Step 7: Adjust display settings
If you have a PC, go to the Control Panel and adjust the display settings to accompany double display on both your monitor and TV set. Mac laptops should automatically adjust for double display. If yours doesn’t, go to System Preferences, click on Display, and then Detect Displays.

Step 8: Find your laptop
Click your TV’s video source – usually a button called “input” or “TV/Video” on your remote – until your laptop comes up. You’re set!

Did You Know?
According to one industry prediction, by 2015 the average European household TV will measure a whopping 60 inches.

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