Posts Tagged ‘diy’

Homeschooling is More than Workbooks at the Kitchen Table

March 5, 2017

When we were diligently studying WWII in American history in our homeschool, I assigned the kids the project of making a game. Foolishly I assumed they would come up with some sort of board game with the Axis and Allies picking sides and battling it out with cards, or dice or Popsicle sticks to dominate the world. I should have known better with MY children.

When I give my students active assignments such as this there is always a laundry list of requirements for their “class” presentation. Just like real school. This particular list included, but was not limited to: make a game that 4-6 people can play, design a game board, include historical information, wear an applicable costume when presenting, have props for the players and make it fun!

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(To my dismay, I did not take a picture of Austin wearing his costume… but this shows what he looked like at that time… thrilled to be giving a report!)

To say I was surprised when my son walked in dressed like Hitler is an understatement. He had absconded the master closet with a tan Royal Rangers shirt of his father’s. He designed a swastika arm band, found a skinny tan tie, and made gold medals for the getup. His blonde hair was slicked over and he had a felt mustache in miniature taped to his upper lip. Scarily, he did resemble the German fascist.

For props we all wore similar black felt mustaches and hand drawn arm bands. The game board was pretty straight forward with six columns leading to the top where he had boldly scribed, “Who Wants to Be Hitler?” … sort of like Jeopardy. At this stage I was falsely assuming that my son was glorifying a mad man and I was simply waiting for the moment to stop the game.

To my surprise (and relief), as we rolled the dice to move up the board, we had to answer detailed questions about the Jews, Germany, death camps, Hitler, the Nazis, Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), persecution, ethnic cleansing, the death trains, etc. The strategy of the game was well thought out. As players, you didn’t want to be Hitler, so you had to understand the times and his hideous plan in order to stay where you were on the board and not ascend to the top. For every wrong answer, you moved closer to “being Hitler.”

The process of playing the game brought home the idea that if you didn’t understand what was going on in society, you would be caught up in the nightmare becoming part of the problem. Discussions following the game were extremely contrite and somber. These kids understood the sins of at least THIS past generation, hopefully being somewhat equipped to stand up against injustice if a situation arose in their lives.

My son received an A on his game and presentation and the game was laid to rest forever.

Unfortunately, somehow the swastika-armband-clad-shirt ended up on a hanger in the front room of our house before it made its way back to my husband’s side of the closet. In the 18 hours it hung in the front room, the doorbell must have wrung at least five times for various and sundry reasons. When spying the shirt, several eyebrows were raised heavenward wondering what in the world was going on in the Crosby homeschool. Fumbling through various thoughts in my head, I knew I should NOT say, “We just played Who Wants to be Hitler!” I feebly came up with, “We are studying World War II,” and smiled my pretty homeschool-mom-smile… the one that makes people assume I have my act together.

Water Filter Infomercial

February 15, 2017

You either HAVE a water filter or you ARE a water filter.

We live in Phoenix, AZ, which is in the Sonoran Desert. Our sunshine state is not know for the quality of our tap water. I’ve heard that Arizona has three years worth of water stored in underground aquifers, for which I am thankful, even though it tastes horrible. So we won’t die of thirst any time soon. I think I could probably crawl out of Arizona to a neighboring state within three years if I had to.

Remember I just ordered a new water filter for the fridge that had the ice maker, the door magnets and the water dispenser fixed? Well, come to find out, my beloved Whirlpool side-by-side refrigerator DID NOT HAVE A FILTER! What? I am semi-grossed out by this news.

After pulling out the fridge to inspect the backside, I discovered lots of broken glass under there. The glass used to be the lid to my most-used and well-loved soup pot. Bummer, dude. It almost looked like someone swept it there on purpose…. but I digress.

I wish I had action photos for you… but no.

Today I am feeling like a boss. With my new filter in hand, along with several attachments and no instructions, I turned to trusty youtube and learned how to splice the water line and install the water filter ALL BY MINESELF. (That’s what our eldest used to say twenty-two years ago.) After the second try, it doesn’t even leak! Feeling like a homeschooler.

My assistants, (okay, I had a little help) my two “willing” teenagers, tested the water, wrapped white sealant tape, emptied the pail and moved the fridge back in its hole. Thank you, my children. We will have yummy water and delicious ice cubes for dinner!

Need plumbing or large appliance assistance? 1-800-LindaIsABoss. BAM!

My Seeds Aren’t Growing

May 27, 2015

Over at a friend’s house in our neighborhood, my new BFF plucked a bunch of mint for me that was growing like stink weed in her side yard. I brought the bunch home and stuck it in a mason jar full of water on my kitchen counter. For the next several days I took clippings of the leaves and my water cup had fresh mint in it… ahhhh, so refreshing.

Then I noticed tiny black seeds had fallen off the mint leaves onto the counter. I picked one up and squeezed it to see if it broke open and smelled like mint. That baby was rock solid, but DID smell like mint. Remembering my friend’s over-prolific mint plot, I brushed the little seeds into the palm of my hand and traipsed out to the back yard to plant them. We have a pot with basil and oregano volunteers just starting to grow, so I made a little trench on the far side of the pot and planted the mint seeds. Visions of transplanting the mint to a permanent location consumed my mind, well, until the washing machine buzzed and I was called to laundry duty.

The next day, lo and behold, there were more little seeds. Then there was a repeat of the brushing and traipsing and planting and envisioning a mint farm in my own oasis.

On the third day, I noticed that all the leaves were missing from the tops of the mint sprigs… and more seeds were on the counter….. and there was a very fat, formerly very hungry caterpillar lying dead in my kitchen sink.

You guessed it. They were not seeds. They will not grow. I was planting caterpillar poop in the planter on my patio. After squeezing it and smelling it and holding it gingerly in my hand. Ewwwwwwww.  Just ewwwwwww.

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BUT, I trimmed the mint and it has rooted in the jar of water and new leaves have grown in to replace the eaten ones, so I’m still having visions of a mint harvest from lush plants grown in my own backyard…. maybe in the fall. Summer is too hot in Phoenix for anything to survive if I accidentally forget to water even for one day!

Happy gardening!

Living Room Make-Over…. TA DA!

December 24, 2014

We painted our entry, front room and stairwell a brown-paper-bag color nine-and-a-half years ago.  I figured out I didn’t like the poopy color before it was dry….. but there it hung for almost ten years. I was swayed by popular color choices… earthy tones and textures… that I never really liked.  They were just IN. I’m not sure why being IN was a concern for me… it’s never been before. It was a dumb decision, but it is now in my past.

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For more than five years I have dreamed of having a light turquoise room in our home for my own eye candy privilege. There’s something delicious about turquoise. To say that I love turquoise would be an understatement. Turquoise is the color of the ocean and Lake Tahoe and Greece and Colombia… all of my favorite places. Those who know how to decorate and coordinate have cautioned me that it could look like a little boy’s room… and quite frankly I don’t care. I just love turquoise. So there.

2014 was a hard year for me. I have not fully recovered from the March 2013 car accident and then my big slip-in-the-mud-cut-my-knee-open episode in October slowed me down even more. Constant low-grade pain wears on you! I didn’t do a creative thing in all of 2014… and creativity makes me happy. I needed some happy. So, in the dark of the night, when Mr. Wallet had his belly full of Mexican food and he was half asleep, I asked if we could paint the living room. He said YES! What he didn’t realize was that “Paint the Living Room” = “Get New Furniture and Wall Decore and Get Rid of EVERYTHING in the Living Room”.  Heh heh heh….and the scheming preparedness began.

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The scouring of magazines commenced. The collection of paint cards grew. The measuring of furniture and walls happened. And then Mr. Wallet escorted me to the paint department of Lowe’s.  Be still my turquoise-loving heart. Painting began.

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Second-hand furniture shopping began for end tables. Then painting furniture commenced.

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A fabric painting tutorial was watched and then BAM, I was painting fabric like a pro.… an unskilled, untrained pro.

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And more projects were found and purchased at Goodwill.

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The entryway was completed first. I was still in hot pursuit of a white couch for $25… well, not exactly but real close. Mr. Wallet likes a good deal.  A REALLLLL good deal.

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Finally, last night, the white couch from my dreams appeared in my turquoise living room and all is well in my world. Merry Caribbean Christmas to me!

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The maps behind the French doors are my favorite. Their order, however, caused some stress for my 10-year-old nephew as they are not all on the same scale and they are definitely NOT in the correct places. He stood there in shock and disgust….”Auntie Linda, Mexico is NOT under England. And the Philippines are WAY too big and shouldn’t be at the top.” His tone implied, “I thought you were a teacher!” I tried to explain that I picked the maps for COLOR… I like turquoise, remember! And I randomly placed them… because I had to do it from the backside. I did make sure the important places are all accounted for: Canada, USA, Colombia, Maui, Greece and the Mediterranean Sea.

Every morning I descend the stairs and I smile. Thank you, Mr. Wallet.

Painted FABRIC… oh yes!

November 16, 2014

Here is the tale of the ugly bench that is now the darling bench.  I’ve read for many years about painting fabric to re-do furniture.  I finally jumped in with both feet and finished my first of many painted fabric projects. Feast your eyeballs on what I started with… the ugly bench.

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Maroon and orange… who thought up that mess?  I researched many types of mediums to use and this one seemed the most economical and straight forward to mix and use.

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That white bottle is Martha Stewart’s tintable fabric medium. They are $5.99 at Michael’s so use your 50% off coupon! I used two kinds of paint, just because I already had one… the Valspar “Aqua Ocean” sample and the Craft Smart cheap turquoise. The mixture is one part Martha’s medium to two parts paint. I used up two bottles of Martha’s mixture and probably have 1/4 of the paint/medium left over.

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One trick I read that sure worked well was to spray the whole piece once over with water before each coat of paint. It helped the fabric absorb the paint.

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I taped off the wood with masking tape. Not the best results.  Next time I will use blue painter’s tape. Here are the results of one coat of paint:

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After the first coat of yummy turquoise dried over night, I sanded the whole thing with sand paper.  Yes, you read that right.  It turned the crunchy hard fabric back into nice soft fabric. I sanded between each coat after it was thoroughly dried. It took four coats of paint to completely hide the maroon color.

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Here is the half way finished bench in our entry way… the fabric is done, but I still want to paint the wooden arms and legs, but I can’t decide on a color, and people were coming over… so there is sits.  My littlest one is so excited because she asked if one of those baskets could be ONLY hers for her shoes and whatnot… I said yes.

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This makes me happy.

One Step Forward….

November 8, 2014

…Two Steps Back.  That has been my week.

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BEFORE…. please stand by for AFTER.

The walls in our entry, living room, dining room and stairwell have been brown for 9.5 years. I realized I didn’t like the color the DAY we painted it on the blinkin’ walls. A re-do was definitely overdue times 10, so a misty mountain light turquoise color was chosen and has been applied to the x-brown walls…. in two layers, unfortunately. The only area not complete is the stairwell. It’s my nemesis at the moment. I am highly distracted by EVERY other thing possible so I don’t have to conquer the stairwell til I’m ready… like washing windows, shopping for new lamp shades, painting baskets, searching for treasures around the house to move to their new place in the misty mountain terrain.

Monday: Figured out we need DOUBLE the paint amount…bummer. Back to Lowe’s.

Tuesday: Sanded three layers of paint from my darling DIY end tables in an attempt to make them look rustic… and I hate it. Starting over. Need more paint… again. Back to Lowe’s.

Wednesday: Shopping for a bench, couch and ottoman…. came home with three velvet pillows, two turquoise and one orange.

Thursday: In trying to re-hang the curtains, 3 of 8 wall screws with supports were pulled from their resting places, leaving large holes…. filled the holes. Need larger supports and bigger screws. Back to Lowe’s.

Friday: Shopping for a bench, couch and ottoman… came home with two gorgeous lampshades.

Saturday: Climbed up the ladder to clean the dining room hanging light. All cleaned… then I screwed the gigantic light bulb back in and the glass bulb separated from the metal screwing part…. back to Lowe’s.

Some day, hopefully in November, I will share the after pictures of the misty mountain oasis in the Sonoran Desert. The real story would be the daily pictures of me wearing painting clothes and not swearing. Sheesh.

All Work and now All Play!

November 27, 2013

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Seventeen days ago we were staring at this eyesore in the backyard with high hopes of eternal grandeur and hours upon hours of play time spent inside the brown box.  Seventeen days later we have joy in our hearts when we look out into the backyard at the finished product.

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Our little girl LOVES her playhouse!  Her French Toast was devoured at lightning speed and the nightgown clad darling dashed out to her lair.  A few trips through the house were made during the day to gather the necessary playhouse items, but she didn’t come inside until 6:30 p.m. when it got dark!  I ventured out there several times to see if everything was okay.  It was.  She was crafting and listening to music and copying favorite selections from the dictionary and reading and “lying” on the couch singing.  It is highly organized for a 3’x6′ space.  In my humble opinion she needs some shelves on the walls for chotchky knickknacks and framed pictures of girly things like flowers or fairies to offset her Edmonton Oilers pencil holding mug.  Far be it from me to push my ideas on HER playhouse.  :o)

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And this happy mama just bought herself HOURS of free time!  Oh yeah!

Playhouses Will Be in Heaven!

November 11, 2013

From my earliest memories, I have LOVED playhouses.  My talented and skillful father built one for us when I was four years old. It was a big triangle and transformed our woodsy Oregon backyard into a deserted island, the open sea and the jungles of deep Africa.  When our kids were 4, 1 and nearly born, we moved into a home with a deluxe tree house/fort that was so perfect for our growing family!  We lived in that house until the kids were 10, 7 and 5.  All they knew of backyard bliss involved that playhouse.  They decorated it every Christmas with a mini tree, sparkling mini lights and mini stockings for all family members and the dog.  Secret meetings were held there… and sleepovers.  Lots of sleepovers!

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So, with our little princess joining the family, I have been envisioning a playhouse for her for SEVEN YEARS!  This is what I have longed to build:

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And more accurately….. this:

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And this would be ideal, but could be ostentatious in our backyard:

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With my husband leaving the country for ten whole days, the kids and I, …. O.K., it was just ME…. decided to build a playhouse for Nora, the Colombian princess, before she was too old to play in one.  Budget: $50 max. And that is only if I put off grocery shopping for a week or two.  How many times can teenagers eat spaghetti in a week?  We’ll see.

This is what I had to work with:

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It is a tool shed my son built when he was nine.  It is solid!

Wish me luck and say a few prayers for creativity and imagination and more creativity and free stuff and great ideas and more free stuff like carpet and a bean bag chair.  A few windows, some flowers, a slap of paint and this place will rock her little heart for a few more years!  Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope.

The Old has become New

January 6, 2012

Remember back in April when I spent all my birthday money at Goodwill on 50% off day with visions of a shabby chic backyard?  Well, it is slowly materializing!  Finally!  I found this top from a girl’s bedroom set… maybe from the bed or a desk hutch… and I could envision a garden shelf dealie to stack my pots and hang my tools.

Then I looked for MONTHS for a bottom piece to store my dirt and fertilizer and turtle kneeling pad.  I think it was in August or September that I happened on this gem at Goodwill… on another 50% off day!  Sweet mother of baby Jesus!  It was perfect.  The guy at the store told me that it came in from a monastery full of religious books all in Chinese.  So half of the finished product was in the ministry.  :o) 

After much painting and sanding and hammering 1×4’s on the back so it doesn’t fall and kill a small child or dog… it is finished!  My husband took one look at the finished product and asked, “So you had all that junk?”  Nice, eh?  Yes, I did… and one man’s junk is his wife’s treasure.  I actually will use the junk, well, most of it.  The ceramic butterfly in the center was handmade by my six-year-old self in Renton, Washington in a ceramics class at a neighbor’s house.  The rest is truly junk.  Not the butterfly.

We did have a near catastrophe whilst waiting for the 1×4’s to be nailed on the back.  I had it set up in the middle of our back porch… clearly capable of falling and killing a small child or dog.  The wind whipped up a gale to behold and knocked the top right off.  It fell backwards, hit the NEW, glass patio table, got a big bash-in on the back piece and fell to the ground.  Shoot.  I put the big tin plate on the top shelf in front of the bash-in evidence.  All is well now.  Why would anyone need this in their yard, you ask?  Because now my gardening gloves won’t get chewed and buried by the dogs.  That’s really what this was all about…. me having to repeatedly replace my flimsy gardening gloves from the dollar store.  See, all is well now. (I have since planted those violas in those six pots in the little green stand on the right.  They are darling.)

Cuteness in the Backyard!

May 19, 2011

When I first laid eyes on this idea in a magazine, I was sold.  It’s been about two years since I ripped that page right out of that magazine…. and put it in my Idea Binder.  I’ve been waiting for the right chair ever since.  Several prerequisites for the chair were established in my mind: sturdy, wide seat, easily removable seat and CUTE!  The one in the magazine was an old ladder back chair with straight lines and no frills.

Fast forward to 8:45 pm on the Friday night before the 50% off sale day at Goodwill.  I was preshopping the sale for the next day with my husband by my side.  I spied this chair and my heart pitter-pattered a little faster than usual.  I knew it was MY chair for the flower pot idea.  It had a cane seat and darling flowers carved on the legs, seat and back.  The cane had a tear in it… hence the $6 price.

That night Larisa had her friend Sarah sleeping over and I talked them into going with me to Goodwill in the morning…. to stand in line so as to be ready for the mad dash.  As we waited in line, I explained everyone’s role: Larisa was to take Nora, get a cart and head for electronics. (That is where I hid small stuff.)  Sarah was to go directly to furniture, grab the chair and head for electronics.  I explained the chair in detail, so as not to get the wrong chair.  I was bee-lining to electronics.  I told them that as soon as the doors open, there would be an announcement over the loud speaker that says “Please do not run!” I confirmed, “Do not listen to it! … RUN!”

All went as planned and now I have a pretty potted chair in the backyard!

For those DIY-ers, I cut out the cain seat.  Painted the brown chair white.  Sanded the decorative carvings. Then I stapled chicken wire to the bottom of the frame in the shape of a bowl.  I bought one of those basket liner replacements that are an inch thick and made of coconut hair.  I had to cut some triangles out of the edges to get it to fit in the seat.  I wanted it on the patio, but it will drip everytime I water it, so it is on the rocky border next to the patio.  TA DA!