Sunday, March 29, 2015

Old Drawer Turned Photo Display

Soprano's room redo is coming along. We created art gallery shelves and artwork, hung embroidery hoops, added a cushy rug, and made artwork for above her bed out of an old pallet.

The latest decor project was to create a display for her memorabilia and keepsake things that she likes to look at. She likes to get postcards when we travel and enjoys receiving them from family members. She used to have a French memo board but it didn't work with her new color scheme. I went digging on Pinterest for ideas and merged a few together to come up with this.

We got a drawer from our local Habitat Re-Store for only $3. I painted the sides and top with the same paint we used on her trim. To dress up the back, I covered a piece of foam core (from Michael's) with a thin layer of craft batting. Then I took this French Script fabric (from JoAnn's) and layered it over the batting. I wrapped it around the edges and taped it on to the back. It fit snugly so I didn't tape or glue the fabric board at all; just stuffed it in. This way we can change it out down the road if we want.
Then Bass took some little eye hooks and screwed them into the sides so he could attach metal wire to them. I spray painted mini clothespins with yellow spray paint (that I used on her picture frames) which clip all her memories to the wires.

Now it hangs above her desk.One more project done!
Linking up to some or all of these great blog parties:
Sunday: It's Overflowing; Sunday Showcase at Under the Table and Dreaming;
Monday: Inspire Me Monday at Sand and Sisal; Tutorials and Tips at Home Stories A to Z; Monthly Before and After at Thrifty Decor Chick
Wednesday: Wicked Awesome Wednesday at Handy Man, Crafty Woman; Whatever Goes Wednesday at Someday Crafts; 
Friday: Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest; Flaunt it Friday at Chic on a Shoestring;

Cushy Carpets - a Rug Pad Corner review

You've seen pic after pic of my living room mantel but I'm not sure if you've seen more than a little peek of the beautiful area rug in there. We got this rug from Lowe's when we first moved into this house about 4 1/2 years ago. What we didn't get was a rug pad for underneath it. *sigh*
A rug pad has been on my wish list forever, but it has gotten pushed further and further down the home improvement list for more immediate needs.

We definitely need one though... 1) to prolong the life of our rug. This rug wasn't a huge financial investment, but it's not a cheap rug either. It's nice quality. I'd like to keep it that way. 2) We read aloud and play games as a family in here, and it hurts to kneel or sit on that rug for a long period of time. My knees are getting old! 3) I'd also like to prolong the life of our wood floors. They need to be refinished but since that's pretty far down the list too, I want to maintain what we currently have.
There are even more benefits to using rug pads. Houzz has a great article with more info.
I don't know if you can tell from this pic but my rug was getting stretched in a funny way from the couch sitting on the edge. I think a rug pad would have prevented that from happening.

I've actually been really thinking about bumping a rug pad up the list lately, so you can imagine how excited I was when I was contacted by Rug Pad Corner about an opportunity to try out their products. God is just too cool to orchestrate circumstances in our lives to bless us with things like this. Yup, the Lord sent me some rug pads. Isn't He good? :)
The gray felt side and the purple grippy side

Okay so here's some info about what Rug Pad Corner offers.
"We manufacture natural felt and rubber rug pads in the USA with American materials. Our mills know how strict we are about quality standards and there is never any imported material or chemical found in any of our rug pads. We also do not believe in coating our rug pads with common adhesives that others use – instead, we pay more time and money to utilize specialties, such as a heat pressing process to assure safety to your homes and floors."
Not only are they American made using natural, recycled felt or natural, untreated rubber and never using chemicals, glues, or adhesives, they
offer prompt, free shipping,
cut from the roll (no creases and lines!),
are committed to a greener environment,
cut custom sizes at no additional cost, and
donate regularly to 3 charitable causes.
I definitely appreciate companies that do business like this. You can read more about them here.

I just needed to figure out which type of rug pad I needed. The service rep I was communicating with helped me but if you go to their website, there's a Rug Pad Wizard at the top of the page. Simply put in what type of flooring your rug is going over, the shape of your rug, and the approximate size. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy!
For our hardwood floors, we got an Ultra Premium rug pad. It has a non-slip backing and cushy felt top.

The website is easy to navigate.
The order process is super easy.
It arrived within days of the order via UPS. Faster than I was expecting. (UPS left it out in the rain which was a little disappointing, but the pads didn't suffer any damage.)
No major off-gassing.
Easy to install.
Great guarantees on all their products.
Cushy, cushy, comfy rugs and no more sore knees!
There's no lip or overly raised edge on the rug. Unless you step on the cushiony rug, you wouldn't even know a rug pad is under there. It's so nice... the younglings were dancing around on it after we installed it.
A few minor-ish Cons:
Our living room rug is so large that we had to do some furniture rearranging to get it into place. Not their fault, I'm just lazy. :)
There was a slight odor for the first day. It wasn't a chemical smell, but I did notice something from the fabric or backing. It dissipated in about a day. We have allergies and some scent issues, but we didn't have any adverse reactions because of it.
I didn't have a rug pad like this 4 years ago! :(

We also got to try one for Soprano's room. Perfect timing since I finally found a rug for her room redo.

She sits here to play all the time. It was not comfortable on the bare hardwood floor. Her new rug is pretty plush but with the rug pad it's now the cushiest seat in the house!
They "offer the most natural rug pads made in the USA that could truly prolong the life of your rugs and floors, all while being completely safe for your floor and home - [They] do NOT allow the use of any chemicals, glue or adhesive in any of [their] rug pads, so feel free to use them in any room on any floor."

They are also offering my readers a 15% discount off their entire order anytime you need a rug pad(s).  Just use the code REVIEW15 at checkout. Aren't they awesome?

Disclosure: I would like to thank Paola at for providing me these rug pads for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own, honest thoughts about it. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

School Summary - Industrial Revolution, Opium, and the Rise of Napoleon

Field trip to the PA Railroad Museum

A Summary of March 2-13
The calendar says March but the weather says mid-January in Antarctica! Brrr! Not many signs of spring yet but I'm sure it's coming. I'm hoping we'll be able to get through a few more weeks of heavy school before the weather turns nice and the younglings want to just rush outside.
Here's what we did:

Things that were scheduled:
Soprano's just moving through her Saxon 6/5 interspersed with Life of Fred Cats. Her Saxon is starting to get into more difficult concepts at this point in the year so some of her lessons are taking a bit more effort on my part to talk her through them. (And talk her down! ha!) I did dig out a DIVE CD that I had purchased at a yard sale and that has helped.
Tenor is doing well with the beginning of Saxon Algebra I. I still need to buy the full Solutions Manual though to help us with some of the more difficult problems.
Language Arts (Grammar, Reading, and Writing; Spelling for Soprano)

Typing, Greek (Tenor), Spanish (Tenor), Home Ec (Soprano)
We've been beta testing a Spanish curriculum but have only received and finished the first five lessons of level 2 so that's on hold until we hear back from the publisher. Soprano's Home Ec is mostly about cleaning, organizing, and hospitality at this point in the year so she's been reading and doing the lessons on her own. She's got the organization thing down pat. I may or may not be genetically responsible for that. :)

My Father's World Exploration to 1850
We've had some interesting study about the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and Napoleon during these two weeks. It's amazing how much the steam engine and the machines that used it changed family life during this time.

Bible: This year we're doing an in-depth study of the book of James and attempting to memorize the entire book. We've now learned all of chapters 1-3 and the first 8 verses of chapter 4. The younglings are doing a great job. They do tend to get tripped up in the same few spots though so we continue to review and review. I have no doubt that their efforts to memorize God's word will reap them blessings in the years to come.
Science: Since we did all of our botany work, using AIG's The World of Plants, over the summer, I'll try to give an overview of the experiments and demonstrations that we did. 
These weeks we would have covered lessons 27-34. That included studying parasites, tropisms, plant survival, reproduction without seeds, ferns, mosses, algae, and the one who always gets invited to the party... the fungi.
We used a houseplant to observe heliotropism; We examined a cactus; We grew a potato without a seed (using a potato "eye"); 
We examined fern fronds (which I found growing in my neighbor's compost pile... aka Free!) and drew our findings;
We tested the absorbent qualities of peat moss
and created forest pictures using real moss to illustrate where it usually grows;
We made food chain pictures with images I found online, and we looked at pond water to try to find algae. We skipped trying to grow mold on bread but we did make spore prints (from mushrooms I found growing in the back yard...ick but Free!).
History: We read about Robert Fulton, who was born not too far from where we live. We talked about going to the museum at his birthplace but couldn't fit it in. We also read about Eli Whitney's cotton gin which revolutionized the cotton industry in the south. It also, sadly, led to a dramatic increase in the number of enslaved people. The machine could clean cotton so much faster that the plantation owners and farmers planted more cotton to make more money but in order to plant and harvest more crops, they needed more enslaved people. A vicious cycle, all from one little machine. We made our own "cotton" that the younglings then had to clean seeds out of. They both realized how beneficial and time-saving the cotton gin would have been and hopefully gained a little more empathy for the work that the enslaved people used to have to do.
Making our own "cotton"
Adding seeds to cotton
Tenor went one step further and made leaves for his cotton boll
Cleaning his cotton
Quite frustrated with how hard it was to get ALL the seeds
Finally clean and realizing how useful the cotton gin would be
We continued our state and president study. 

I added in some map work from SOTW (The Kingdom at the Center of the World and Napoleon, Europe, and North America). No extra timeline pieces though. 

We skipped the Rosetta Stone baking activity because it was so similar to previous year's about Ancient Egypt and the Vikings.
Other MFW: 
Music: We listened to several pieces by Chopin. For our hymn study, we spent one week on "When Morning Gilds the Skies (May Jesus Christ Be Praised)" and then started learning "My Faith Looks Up to Thee."
Art: We read about Ingres and did lots of drawing (eggs, lines, shading dark and light). We also had another lesson on blending painting.

You can see them all in my Youtube playlist for weeks 15-34.
Botany extras (we didn't use them)
Cotton Gin diagram
Paddle Steamer paper model
Napoleon video
Rise of Napoleon video (the other videos on the page are already in my Youtube playlist)
White House craft (John Adams was the first president to live in the White House.)
No extra videos this week.

Favorite Books: 
Mirette and Bellini Cross Niagara Falls (New York) by Emily McCully
The Babe and I (New York) by David Adler
The Inside-Outside Book of New York City (New York) by Roxie Munro
The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge (New York) by Hildegarde Swift
The Man Who Walked Between Two Towers (New York) by Mordecai Gerstein
The Snow Walker (New York) by Margaret Wetterer
Snowflake Bentley (Vermont) by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Soap! Soap! Don't Forget the Soap! (North Carolina) by Tom Birdseye
T is For Tarheel (North Carolina) by Carol Crane
We also enjoyed Charter Day. Charter Day in Pennsylvania is a day when state owned museums offer free admission in celebration of William Penn receiving the charter for his colony. We had several choices that would have coincided with our history studies this year but it was perfect timing to go to the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum. I figured we'd be in and out in a hour or so but we were there for over three hours taking it all in.
Soprano's favorite engine --- Ponies!
The younglings favorite part of the museum... the huge Lego display!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Make a Card Monday - Very Thankful Peacock

I found this stamp set at a yard sale and just fell in love with the peacock image in the set. The image inspired a bright Indian medallian themed thank you card. I used the tutorial from this pin.
 And the inside sentiment:

cardstock: orange and teal (Recollections), white (Georgia Pacific)
patterned paper: Ooh La La (My Mind's Eye)
embellishments: Stickles (orange peel, turquoise, star dust)
color: Water Lily Green ink (Palette)
tools: circle and scallop circle die (Nestabilities)
stamps: Very Thankful (image and sentiment) (Stampin Up!)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

There's a Cuff in My Boot! - DIY Boot Cuffs

Did you read the title using Woody's (from Toy Story) voice? I sure did, pard'ner!

I'm not a fashion blogger by any means but I saw this idea on Pinterest and wanted to share my take on it. I have a few pairs of boots that I like to wear, especially when it's cold out because they keep my legs warm. Sometimes though, it's fun to pretend that I'm actually a cool person and dress those boots up with boot socks or cuffs.
Have you seen how expensive some of them can be? Yikes!
Following that pin's advice, I decided to make my own. First up, a trip to the local Goodwill. I found three sweaters in the bargain section (aka about $2.00 for all of them) that I didn't mind cutting up. (Bonus: I have extra brown and white pieces that I can use to dress-up candles next fall!)
I trimmed the sleeves to the length I thought I wanted (Hint: make them longer than I did or you'll be constantly worried that they're poking their way out of your boot.) After trimming, I ran a zig-zag stitch around the raw edge a couple times just so they wouldn't fray into pieces.

For the white cuffs, I salvaged the buttons off the cardigan and attached them to the top of my cuffs for additional interest. I had just enough to put three buttons on each cuff.

I'm cool now, right?
Well... now I just need to get some mitten clips so the knees of my jeans don't get so baggy.

Linking up to some or all of these great blog parties:
Sunday: Sunday Showcase at Under the Table and Dreaming;
Monday: Inspire Me Monday at Sand and Sisal; Tutorials and Tips at Home Stories A to Z; It's Overflowing; Monthly Before and After at Thrifty Decor Chick
Wednesday: Wicked Awesome Wednesday at Handy Man, Crafty Woman; Whatever Goes Wednesday at Someday Crafts; 
Friday: Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest; Flaunt it Friday at Chic on a Shoestring;

School Summary - Captain Cook, French Revolution, Catherine the Great

A Summary of February 6-27
February went by quickly! We had a full week of school, a full week off for a winter break (love, love, love Sabbath schooling!), and then another full week of school. Of course, my winter "break" was mostly spent planning next year's schoolwork but I'm hoping the work I put in now will let me have more time off this summer when I'm sitting in the sun, relaxing by the pool, bees a'buzzin', kissable dandelion fuzz, a drink in my hand, up against the sand... in SUMMER! (I might be getting too far ahead of the weather here. Time to reign it in.) Back to school...
Here's what we did:

Things that were scheduled:
Language Arts (Grammar, Reading, and Writing; Spelling for Soprano)
Tenor started Saxon Algebra I. So far so good. He doesn't have a drill each day anymore. Nice for him and one less thing to correct for me. We have had a few tear-inducing, head-scratchers... sometimes the answer key asks for just a formula like (20 + 4π)m and sometimes it finished out the calculations and wants a final answer like 24π ft = 75.36 ft.
In each instance it looks like the same type of problem to me so I'm not sure why the book doesn't always end up one way or the other. But we're figuring it out together. I did have to remind him though that I haven't done Algebra longer than he's been alive so I need a little time to catch up before I can work through those problem spots with him.
Thankfully Soprano's math and their L/A are both right on track with no troubles.

Typing, Greek (Tenor), Spanish (Tenor), Home Ec (Soprano)

My Father's World Exploration to 1850
We shifted focus for these two weeks, away from the fledgling US of A back to Europe and Asia. We read about Captain Cook's journey to find the great Southern continent, which he thought he missed. We read all about how the American War for Independence spurred the French Revolution and how quickly that went south, and we read about Catherine I of Russia and how she earned her name, Catherine the Great.

Bible: This year we're doing an in-depth study of the book of James and attempting to memorize the entire book. We've now learned all of chapters 1-3. By "we", I mean the younglings. My poor old brain is only getting bits and pieces to stick.
Science: Since we did all of our botany work, using AIG's The World of Plants, over the summer, I'll try to give an overview of the experiments and demonstrations that we did. The younglings finished their botany lapbooks from In the Hands of a Child.

These weeks we would have covered lessons 21-26. That included studying flowers, pollination, fruit, annuals/biennials/perennials, and meat-eating plants.
They made models of flowers:
They dissected a few flowers (alstromeria and daisy):
We examined different types of fruit:
And because we had so much fruit on hand, we invited friends over for dessert fondue! Isn't school fun??
History: We read about Captain Cook discovering Australia. I was reading in SOTW and said that the botanists and scientists with him arrived at the island and discovered a hopping animal that the natives called kan-goo-roo. One of my younglings says, "Ooh, dolphins!!" 
Wait, wha?
The other youngling and I laughed and laughed. Yup, we homskool. ;)
After we touched on Cook's journeys, we read a lot about the causes of, the events of, and results of the French Revolution. Then we came back to Catherine the Great. We had touched on her life earlier in the year. This week we went further in depth as to how she gained the throne and brought in Western ideas to Russia. Like she said, to really change Russia, she'd have to live to be as old as Methuselah. But she did quite a bit.
We notebooked about the Revolution and Catherine:
We played "Storm the Bastille", a trivia game in the SOTW3 Activity Book.
We continued our state study.
I added in some map work from MapTrek (The French Revolution) and SOTW (Catherine the Great instead of the MFW assignment). No extra timeline pieces though. 
We skipped baking quiche lorriane (I hate quiche! I love eggs and egg dishes... just not quiche!) and we skipped making Russian manyick. 
Other MFW: 
Music: We listened to several pieces by Chopin. For our hymn study, we spent one week on "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" then the following week learning "When Morning Gilds the Skies (May Jesus Christ Be Praised)".
Art: We read about French Artists, including Fragonard, tried a pen and wash technique, and tried painting realistically. Our schedule was a little off this week so we pushed the painting until Friday but I think the younglings were "over" school by then. We had some fussing about finishing so this was the end result.
You can see them all in my Youtube playlist for weeks 15-34.
Botany extras (we didn't use them)
Printable Leaf and Needle Poster
French Revolution Song 
No extra videos this week.

Favorite Books: 
Moi and Marie Antoinette by Marie Cullen
You Wouldn't Want to Be an Aristocrat in the French Revolution! by Jim Pipe
A River Ran Wild (Massachusetts) by Lynne Cherry
Berlioz the Bear (Massachusetts) by Jan Brett
Letting Swift River Go (Massachusetts) by Jane Yolen
Louisa May and Mr. Thoreau's Flute (Massachusetts) by Julie Dunlap
M is for Mayflower (Massachusetts) by Margot Raven
N is for Nutmeg (Connecticut) by Elissa Grodin
B is for Blue Crab (Maryland) by Laura Stutzman
Deep in the Swamp (Georgia) by Donna Bateman
P is for Peach (Georgia) by Carol Crane
Carolina Shout (South Carolina) by Alan Schroeder
Ron's Big Mission (South Carolina) by Rose Blue
The Blue Hill Meadows (Virginia) by Cynthia Rylant
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