Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Yard Clean Up

Normally by June I have my yard looking pretty good. I was awaiting sting testing on June 7 and one stipulation was I could not be stung by anything. This kept me from going into my yard. I did re-test on June 7 and the reaction was negative (yay!) so I am not showing allergic reaction to wasp, yellow jacket, or hornet anymore. I did 3.5yrs of immunotherapy to lessen my sensitivity and it worked!
Saturday I needed to run to Kohls to buy my niece a new pair of sandals after Buddy my toy poodle decided to eat one of her straps. Lowes is next to Kohls so I dropped into Lowes to look at flowers. I wanted to get some annuals for my flower pots, but did not want to spend over $50 in my yard. My favorites are geraniums and petunias. There are many flowers I love, but geraniums and petunias work very well in my sunny yard. I was surprised to see Lowes had no geraniums. I walked around for about 30 minutes when I finally saw hanging pots of geraniums, it was not really what I wanted but beggars cant be choosy. They had 5 pots of red and 1 pink. I prefer pink, white and the orange geraniums but I bought what they had, which was 2 red and 1 pink pot each at $9.98. Then I found these really nice sized pots of petunias I got 2 solid white and 2 white/purple mixed at $4.98 per pot. So around $50 for my flowers, I was pretty pleased with myself.
I forgot however about the 4 hanging pots I keep by the pool. This is a tricky area because the heat and the reflection from the water kill my flowers every year. I went by Dollar Tree to get a drink and noticed the fake flowers (yes, I went to that level). I found white and yellow Dahlias stems. They really were not bad, but honestly not the best looking fakes either (but $1 each). From a distance they look really good, I still have one pot to finish but its been raining so I have to wait. I got 17 total stems for $17. So now I am at $77 for my yard - I went over but still not bad at all.

First I planted all the geraniums and petunias. The difference just in doing that was amazing! Next I pulled weeds on the front of my house, while mine are not bad it did take some time. After that I decided to split the 3 overgrown hostas in my front yard, I got 17 plants (good sized) out of those 3 hostas. I moved 2 blanket flowers that had popped up in the wrong places (hope they survive!). Then cleaned up my front porch. I admittedly need to do more on my porch its a little barren, but it is clean.

I took many of the hostas and moved them to the garage side of my house. A bunch of thorny bushes were pulled last summer and what to do there has been the question. I decided to pull the weeds on that side too and planted (I think) 7-8 hostas on that side. Plus have a flower pot with petunias and planted 3 smaller pots with hostas for my hose house. I transplanted some coreopsis to this area too. Already it looks so much better.

In 2011, I was laying out stepping stones in this area and was planning to bury them into the mulch so they were flat, but I got stung and ended up in the emergency room and the stepping stones were never touched after that. I did manage to get 6 of the 27 stones buried in the mulch on Sunday. 21 to go!
Still need to paint around the new french door

Sunday night before it got too dark, I pulled weeds down the other side of my house. I also got my deck set up, same as the front porch it looks good and clean but still needs a little more decor. So Saturday and Sunday I got a lot done, but overall I still have a lot to do. My grand plan included burying 5-6 stones per night this week until all were done but we have rain in the forecast everyday for the next week, figures! So now the mulch is too wet to dig in.

Still need to clean the deck surface and lots to do in the kids play area
Monday night I used my hedge trimmer and trimmed back all 17 bushes in my yard. This took a couple hours and I raked the cuttings into piles. Tonight I will pick up that mess and pull weeds around the pool. 

It's a work in progress, I will continue to post more pictures and progress as I get more stuff done. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

4th Grade Business Day Project - Balloon Stress Balls

Oh to be in the 4th grade again!

Since so many projects come home that need parent assistance, I sort of am in 4th grade again, lol. My kids went to school through June 5 (I know...every other school had already let out!).

My son got to participate in Business Day, it is a rite of passage in their elementary school. He had to create a business plan for a product he wants to sell. Then once approved, the student had to earn "money" thru homework, projects, behavior, and grades to finance their store front. Other grades earn "money" to shop with.

They were limited to spending $15 real dollars to create their product. This year the school did not allow food products so we had to think of a fast, cheap, and easy product to make for business day. So stress balls made from balloons seemed to be a fast, easy, and cheap solution.

We bought $9 in balloons (144) at Walmart, $2 giant roll of curling ribbon, and 14 $1 boxes of cornstarch (yep we went about $10 over the limit the cornstarch per box filled about 12 balloons). I have sharpies at home and I have other filler supplies at home (cornstarch, flour, sugar, and sand). If you make these do not use water balloons they are too thin.

We found that blowing some air and then releasing it from the balloon stretches the balloon a bit and making it easier to fill. We tried normal funnels but the balloon cannot grip anything, the funnel opening was too small leading to clogs, and the small funnel didn't open the balloon up much. I had the idea to cut the top of a soda bottle so there was a small funnel and a large opening. The balloon can grab the ridges of the lid threading making it not slide off. Be sure to rinse the bottle out and dry it really good.

Once you get the balloon secured on the bottle, add a couple scoops of cornstarch from a serving spoon. I tapped the spoon on the inside of the "funnel" to encourage the cornstarch to move along into the balloon, you can also take a straw or pencil and swirl it around in the opening to make the cornstarch drop.

You tie off the balloon, rinse it off to remove the cornstarch from the outside, and let air dry. Add a curling ribbon and a face to the balloon to dress it up.

The nice part was the mess, I had cornstarch everywhere, and I mean everywhere! But it wipes up easily so does the flour.We tried a balloon with sand and it didn't fill up very good and one with sugar  and one with flour but it made a hard to squeeze stress ball. So we stuck to the cornstarch balls.

The great part of this is time flies by and anyone can do this so the entire family was willing and able to jump in to help make these in 2 nights.

My little entrepreneur was excited to get to school to sell his stress balls, he sold out in 1 hour!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Knock off Pottery Barn Art work - current progress

Pottery Barn, one of my favorite stores, has this beautiful wall art called Painted Pieced Wood Wall Art. It's a bit country but really beautiful and simple. I don't like country decor but this piece has a modern element to it that is very captivating. The PB version is big 5ft by 5ft! Too big for most spaces in my house. The PB version comes with a hefty $500 price too. But I still love it and perhaps someday it will be something I could add to my house (if I can find a wall big enough for it).

I wanted to try to create my own scaled down version of this wall art, but when I started to look at all the online DIY versions the amount of time and work that went into creating this was daunting. So I decided to try to create a painted version of this same piece.

I used a thin plywood sheet and cut it down to a 2ft by 3ft size. Looking back I should have cut it to a 2ft by 2ft to make it square but I wanted extra length at the time.

I used a ruler, a wood plank, regular size paint stir stick and an oversized paint stir stick to make my lines. Somehow, somewhere I got crooked in the middle but it's ok, as I tell my kids, it's my art and I can create it how I want it to be.

I did try to stick to the PB pattern and colors as much as possible using a rectangular board on a square pattern so I did have to make some lines much wider and ended up losing the very bottom strip because I made some of my lines too wide. Other than that the pattern is similar.

I used acrylic craft paint and many of the colors are mixed to get the desired colors. I have started the process to lightly sand my piece but I did this during the winter so it was too cold to finish. Now that Ohio is starting to warm up (haha - it was 45 degrees here yesterday) I hope to work more on this to finish the look of it. I want to sand it down more, add a stain to add some interest and possibly darken the colors a bit, they are a bit too bright as is. The pictures I took make the colors seem incredibly bright but in person they are much more subtle.

The PB version has some lines in certain planks that makes it look a bit rustic. I created the lines using a pencil and paint but I recently bought a dremel tool and want to use this to cut the lines into my version.
The piece is slightly cut crooked, but much of it was the photographer not holding the camera straight.

Cutting my plyboard was difficult so I had to use a hand saw with a fine blade. I got a bit crooked so I want to correct the cut line to straighten it out. On the back of the board I did add wood strips to add some depth to the piece for when it is hung. These strips have also pulled the plyboard straight.

I am awaiting sting testing on June 8 before venturing too far outside (I can't get stung before the testing and don't want to get stung since I don't know if I will react or not). So outside activities like mulching, picnics, planting flowers, doing projects are on hold. Once I get tested and know where I stand, still allergic or desensitized, I will know how to proceed with outdoor activities. Hopefully by June 8 Ohio weather will start behaving and be summery so I can finish this project and get some work in my flower beds done.

Look forward to showing you my finished DIY.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Ikea Hemnes Tall Shoe Storage Cabinet

Happy Monday!

Coming off a hectic weekend and my birthday weekend I am tired and ready to get back to work. (first off sorry for the dark and shadowed pics, my family room is difficult to photograph)

I have in the past talked about the shoe epidemic that has overrun my family room floor. I tried baskets and that didn't work, the shoes were just thrown on the floor by my kids. I will admit they still throw the shoes on the floor so I have to stay after them to put the shoes in the cabinet but the problem is about 90% better because most of the shoes are in the cabinet, its really just the ones they wear daily that I find on the floor.

I had several ideas on how to fix the shoe problem which included the kids taking their shoes to their rooms, but seriously what was I thinking !?! Then I bought 2 Ikea 4 drawer Hemnes for $99 each to have in my upstairs hallway, but somehow I ended up filling both with my own shoes. These little cabinets were easy to build, look amazing, and take up very little space. Let me also mention they totally transformed my upper hall into a quite stylish area. I went with the white cabinets.

For my family room I only needed 1 cabinet and because my ceiling is vaulted I felt a taller cabinet was needed so it looked right on the wall. I thought the small cabinet would be lost on that tall wall and because it was placed behind a reclining chair it would not be hidden. Again, I went with the white cabinet. I built this cabinet myself in maybe an hour and this was anchored to the wall. My upstairs cabinets were "anchored" with Command 3M picture hanging strips. But this cabinet is much heavier and the shoe compartments are substantial so I knew the Command strip would not be strong enough.

The cabinet is the Ikea Hemnes Shoe cabinet with 2 Compartments at $129. I admit the little charcoal color knobs are not my favorite and seemed small on this big cabinet so I bought ring pulls off Amazon to go on this cabinet. Hickory Hardware Camarilla Ring Pulls in Satin Nickel at $4.37 per pull. These were pretty pricey but well worth it, they changed the look of my cabinet from a stock Ikea piece to a more expensive looking piece of furniture.

This piece filled a blank space that I knew needed something but wasn't sure exactly what for a long time. I am still trying to find a picture or mirror to hang over this but for now I am happy with the cabinet, the pictures of my kids, my kitty's urn, and my artwork. Eventually I will get it the way I want it to look.

Welcome to June, hope you have a great summer!