Tuesday, December 29, 2015

December 28, 2015

It's amazing what can be done with a few skills!  We really gifted ourselves this Christmas.  We were having trouble with leaking, mold growing, wood rotting, and mushrooms forming around our shower in the master bath, so we knew that we would be tearing it out to find the extent of the mold growth.  We were very alarmed due to the fact that our home is only four years old.  Ever notice the rim on the vinyl shower bottoms?  It is very flat around the outside edge which is a poor design to prevent water from leaking eventually toward the wall.  Anyway, as this is our forever home, we decided that if we had to tear it out anyway, we might as well put in what we wanted, and I have always loved white marble.  As we are improving around the farm, we keep asking ourselves how we can get things done in a way that it will last the rest of our lives.  Marble
 seems to satisfy that as well.  So I shopped around to get the best price on

marble tile, bought a few basket weave marble tiles for the bottom and niche, and got a professional to put it in for us, due to the building of the shower pan.  We love our new shower! I knew I did not want to put the glass shower door back up, as I was trying to eliminate cleaning issues for the next fifty years and not only was the glass a pain to keep clean, but the bottom track always seemed to look dirty no matter how often I cleaned.  However, I did want to make sure I used a sheer fabric so the light would come through.  I bought a set of white sheer curtains with gray embroidery on it.  It is so sad how when you order curtains, none of them seem to come in at the length they said they were.  These curtains were supposed to be 84" and they were 82"!  So, I let out the top and bottom hems, added some fabric to the back of the top and added buttonholes to the top for the shower clips to go through.  For the liner, it was short as well.  I cut off the top with the grommets and added a band of fabric sewn to the top and to the shower curtain.  To allow me to sew it without getting stuck on the plastic curtain, I had to use strips of paper between the sewing machine foot and the shower curtain.  Once done, you wet the paper to take it off without pulling the stitches.  I love the way it turned out.  My handy husband installed a chandelier over the bathtub where we had a flush mount light.  As he had to add a box in the ceiling to hold the new light, we found that a ceiling medallion covered the extra spaces and edges.  It looks great, too!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

December 15, 2015

If you haven't figured it out by now, our family is a bunch of geeks. That is probably one reason why being sustainable appeals to us so much. The Christmas season is no exception to geekiness. In my last post, I showed you the wreaths for my children's doors - all unique to them. This time, I want to show you my husband's items for this last week of school. This week is spirit week, so there is a themed day for each day at Eastern Randolph. Monday - Candy Cane day, Tuesday - ugly Christmas sweater day, Wednesday - Christmas character day, Thursday - Flannel day, and Friday - Extreme red and green day. Of course, I hit the thrift shops to try to satisfy these requirements. What we usually do, is buy a tie. A tie is cheap at the thrift shops, and takes up very little storage space. When coupled with the fact that my husband likes to look professional as a teacher, a tie is a real winner. Of course, a tie doesn't always suffice. For the first day of spirit week, I looked for a tie with candy cane stripes. Not available. So I found one that was mostly red and white, brought it home, used scotch tape to tape off some stripes, and spray painted with some spare white paint. He did say that by the end of the day the paint fumes were getting to him just a little. He is such a good sport!
I also sent him with a basket I bought for fifty cents, spray painted red, with some red and green striped mints (I don't know why the small candy canes aren't still available). So for $3.50 he was dressed for the occasion and had some candy to hand out ($1.00 each for the red mints and the green mints.) For Tuesday, it was ugly Christmas sweater day. Of course, we don't have one, so I looked at the thrift shop for this too, but was told they had been gone since they put them out in October. So I found a sweater to use for a base and decided I would have to applique something on it. Then I figured as long as I had to applique something on it, it should be pertinent to his class. Since he teaches physical science, I decided on a beaker, an erlenmeyer flask and a multimeter. I had some scraps to use for the stocking to hold them, then I appealed to my neighbors for yellow and gray for the multimeter. Thankfully, I have a neighbor who quilts and was able to help me out (it was so nice to have a reason to see her as well). From this was born an ugly Christmas sweater that I am afraid might become one of my husband's favorites.
Wednesday is Christmas character day, so we are starting with a sweatshirt I made him last year with the Grinch on it. I bought some very small plastic zipper bags, so small they only hold eight red and green M & M's. They were only $1 for 100 bags (called boutique bags in the bead section at Wal-mart). I then printed some labels with the grinch and the words: "Grinch Pills Take two when your heart is feeling small." So for about $5.00 (the M & Ms were the expensive part) he will not only look the part, but have something to hand out to his high school students.
The bags were so small, I had to cut the standard address label in two parts, putting the instructions on one side of the bag with the picture of the grinch on the other.
As Thursday is flannel day, he will just wear a red flannel shirt he has, and Friday for extreme red and green he will wear a green shirt with a red tie that has green Christmas trees on it that he already has.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December 1, 2015

The Holiday season has been upon us and continues to reign.  Thanksgiving was all about preparing for family to come to our house. We got the front door painted, the last touches on the front hallway, the stairwell painted and family photos hung (finally.)  I prepared wreaths for our children to take home that matched their decor.  Our youngest got one in royal blue and black, with a Santa Guinea pig (her favorite pet.)  Our oldest received one in purple and silver with Jack Skellington, and our middle received one in red and black with dragons.  Our Thanksgiving meal consisted of many entrees grown right here on the farm:  string beans (we prefer Roma beans), creamed potatoes (we grow Corollas), sweet potato casserole (we grow organic covingtons), corn pudding (we found an organic silver queen this year) and okra pickles.    Other items on the menu included:  pumpkin pie, pecan pie, coconut pie, dressing, smoked turkey, spiral ham, homemade cranberry sauce, homemade rolls, fruit salad, beer (made by John), turkey cupcakes, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things.  In addition to the regular holiday happenings, my husband has been working on our photovoltaic system, and now has it functional.  We are currently running the barn/workshop totally from it, as well as wall sockets, lights, basement outlets/freezer, and smoke detectors in the house.  We have finished out our solar panels on the tractor shed roof, as John was able to repair another couple of panels.  We also picked up five new family members, as our black Australorps have not been doing a good job at laying eggs, so we went and got five buff orpingtons that are about 28 weeks old from one of our neighbors.  Despite the fact that it is cold and daylight is dwindling, we are now getting four eggs per day.