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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back To School

All of us teachers started back to school on Thursday and the kids begin tomorrow.  I like to try to give my co-workers some sort of small back-to-school each year and this year, was no exception.  Earlier this year, I found sets of colorful paring knives on sale and thought they would be perfect for carrying in a lunch bag each day.   Each knife was exactly the same and came in its own sheath, 4 to a pack.    I put each one in a cellophane bag and secured them with the included twist-tie.  I then put an apple in another cellophane bag and ties the two together with re/white baker's twine.   The Girl Creative had a free download of a chalkboard teacher tag that is so cute!  It was just what I was looking for, and would also be great for a Teacher Appreciation gift.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Outdoor Spaces

Ron and I have spent a lot of time outdoors in the past year.  We like camping and hiking and kayaking and running.  But, we also like to just sit outside and relax.  This spring, we worked hard to fix up our fire pit area, although it's been too hot this summer to actually enjoy it much yet.  But we have enjoyed being outdoors on the deck---especially in the mornings or late evenings.   The only problem (besides it being really messy), is that the late evening sun shines directly into that area from the west, making it pretty uncomfortable at times.  Ron has remarked several times that we need curtains on that side.

Well, this weekend, we did something about it.  I measured the length of the span and did a little research online  at my favorite DIY spot, Pinterest, before heading to Home Depot.  

porch curtains
Porch curtains rod - spray paint color on it for pop of color

I picked up two 6' x 9' drop cloths and some eye bolts to be fastened to the metal.  I found the best price for curtain ring clips at WalMart.  Ron went to Lowe's with me to get the pipe that we used as a curtain rod.  We planned to use conduit, but it doesn't come in 12' lengths and they were sold out of the 1/2" diameter.  Instead we decided to use actual threaded pipe---it came in 6' lengths, so two of them made it the right length.  We bought a coupler for the middles and two end caps to keep the curtain rings from sliding off.  The threaded pipe was more expensive than conduit would have been, but it is also much stronger and looks better.

Ron drilled holes in the metal roofing rim and inserted 3 bolts, along with locking nuts.  Because the roof slants, he screwed the first bolt all the way in and kept the bolt at the other end fully extended.

(By the way, drilling into that metal caused tiny metal flakes/splinters to fly everywhere, so Ron had to be very careful and wear protective eye wear).    I slid the curtain clips onto the rods and we slid it through the eye hooks.  I folded the drop cloths to the appropriate length and clipped them on.

I want to live with them for a little while before I decide if I am going to cut and hem them---at this point, the flap doesn't really bother me much.  

After cleaning up the deck (those pictures above show just how messy it really was!!), and letting them hang outside a bit so the wrinkles could fall out, they really look pretty good.    It's really pretty amazing how much shade they provide!  And while not necessarily the cheapest option, it is much more affordable than actual outdoor curtains and does the trick quite nicely.


This was a busy weekend!   In this area, the River Cities Triathlon is a big deal!  It is a spring triathlon, but is considered to be one of the best in the area and is attended by people throughout the southern USA.  Friday, I worked at the packet pickup at our local sports store, Sportspectrum.  It was a steady stream of people picking up packets for themselves and for their kids who would be participating in the Ironfish, kids' triathlon.  Registration for this event generally opens in January and is closed at 1200 participants, which they usually reach in a couple weeks.

Last year was my first time to ever see an actual triathlon and Ron's first time to participate.  It was so much fun!  This year, since I was going to be there anyway, I volunteered to help out with the race logisitics.  That meant that we had to get there early!  WAY early!!

Of course, it seems that this time everyone wanted to get there early.

Once we arrived and checked in, Ron got his things set up in the transition area, while I got my instructions for working at the water stop at the transition area.

One of the girls from my daughters' youth group was there, too and I accidentally caught her in this picture---she said "Mrs. Linda, you could have just told me you wanted my picture!"  lol
It's always very moving for me to watch all the hustle and bustle of a race like this to come to a complete halt and everyone turn their silent attention to the National Anthem and American flag---reminds me every time how very lucky we are to be able to freely participate in activities such as this! 

Being, "ah-hem", an OLDER participant meant that Ron started near the end of the pack, but this time, instead of getting really nervous, he was more familiar with the process and was able to pace himself during the swim better.  From my vantage point, I wasn't able to watch him "hit the water", but I snuck down before the race began as the racers got used to the water.

I listened for the cannon to signal the beginning of each heat and knew the time he was scheduled to begin.

One of our running buddies caught a few with his iPhone as he was transitioning from biking to running.

I greeted him at our water stop with a couple of cold cups over his head, then worked a bit longer before leaving to watch him cross the finish line.

It was really hot, and I got eaten by ants, but otherwise a great time!  I'm not completely sold on volunteering since I didn't get to see Ron as much as I'd liked, but they definitely needed the help and it was fun.  After eating a bit and gathering our belongings (mostly his belongings), we headed back to the truck--a little 1/2 mile hike, which probably seems pretty long after doing a Tri!

As it turns out, Ron did set a new PR, coming in 7 minutes faster than last year.  Hooray!
Friday, August 2, 2013

Update on the Summer Re-Do

Finally, this was the year I've been able to remodel the computer room/guest/Dan's bedroom.   Several weeks ago, Jordan was able to devote 5 days (give or take a few) to the project and it was looking great!

After debating about what kind of desktop to use, Jordan and I finally decided that he would build it himself with nice oak lumber that I purchased.  He did an awesome job!  

I stained it dark.

Ron and I bought paint and got to work  on the walls, ceiling and woodwork.  It was already primed white, so that made the job much easier.

I really wanted to add a clear, hard finish to the top, but my experience with polyurethane has not been great and I wanted something less sticky and more durable.  I decided to take a risk and try out Glaze Coat--an epoxy resin formula that you mix together and spread on.  But, I was chicken!   I read the directions numerous times and thought about the procedure for several days before actually tackling the project.

Ron helped.  He mixed while I watched the timer, then we both spread at the same time because it is such a large surface and time is limited when working with the product.

First we did a "sealer coat".  (Ron blew out any bubbles on the surface).

That went well and within 24 hours it was ready for the top coat.   This time we weren't worried.  We mixed and spread and waited.  And waited.   And waited.  

While the finish looks great, only about 2/3 of the desk actually cured properly.   The other 1/3 is left with a slightly "tacky" feel.   I searched online for any instructions or troubleshooting information I could find, but came up completely blank.  So, I found an email address of what I THOUGHT was the company and sent them a letter asking for advice as to how to proceed.

They were prompt in their response and after a few emails back and forth for clarification about the process we used, etc., they gave me instructions of how to HOPEFULLY fix it!  It involves sanding, wiping, re-mixing and a new spread.  We're trying that tonight---keep your fingers crossed that this time it works the way it is supposed to!!
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Here's a quick little project I did a couple of weeks ago.  I've been wanting to find some sort of new dispenser for my dishwashing soap.  A good while ago, a friend gave me a really pretty hand-painted bottle that I have been using.  (please ignore how dirty my sink is in the picture below!!)

But if you look closer, you'll see that it gets really yucky around the top.

When I was cleaning out some cabinets, I found a brand new mason jar I'd hidden away and a pump that I'd saved from a bottle of lotion, or soap or something a long time ago.

I begged Ron to drill a hole for me.

Put the pump in and used a bit of hot-glue to hold it in place.

Voila'!  A new soap dispenser that doesn't get all gunked up (not sure if that's a word or not, but . . . )

I might try to paint the brass top at some point, but for now, I'm enjoying it as is.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mornings On the Deck

Once school begins again (next week), I'm going to miss my mornings on the deck most of all!  I know that I could get up earlier to be able to spend the same time, but I'm not sure that's going to happen.  So in the meantime, I'm going to soak up the calm and the sunshine and enjoy!

I received my Expodisc in the mail the other day.  
I've been relying on a coffee filter or Photoshop post-processing for my white balance.  I'm hoping this will be an improvement on that.  It definitely was for these pictures---I only cropped them.

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