Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fabric-Covered Magnetic Necklace Holder

This project ended up being a little more time-consuming than I originally thought it would be. I thought I'd go to Michael's, find a steel magnetic board kind of like the dry erase boards, cover it in fabric, and be done.

Michael's doesn't sell those and doesn't know who, if anyone, does. Michael's is also in the same strip mall as Home Depot for me.

So I started out by purchasing a basic black 16x20 frame (40 percent off last week). It was the kind that already has double matting in it with spacers in between the mats. Even though you won't use the matting, this is important because you need room for your materials that you're putting in your frame. If you buy a basic frame, you might not be able to get the back on and the metal things slipped back in the slots, even with the glass out.

I went to Home Depot and bought two pieces of some kind of steel. I had a guy help me. I had to buy two pieces because singularly they weren't big enough. They had to be cut, and I was disillusioned to find out that Home Depot doesn't cut everything for a price. But the guy that was helping me used to work in metal and cut it for me. I had it cut 15 7/8" x 19 7/8" because I knew I'd be wrapping some fabric around the edges and I wanted it to go back in the frame. Good thing I did since it was a snug fit on one of the corners.

I bought the cement the guy recommended. It went on like rubber cement, and then I put the metal on a thin piece of board I bought and had cut to size.

I covered it with two layers of white muslin. I just pulled it taut and hot glued it down.

I could still see the line faintly through the muslin where the two pieces of metal met. If I'd used something darker or with a print it wouldn't have shown. I decided to hot glue a cute piece of ribbon across the middle where that line was.

I used my magnets I made in lots of different patterns. Since it's in my bedroom and my walls will be blue, I didn't want the background to compete with the wall and I wanted to use all my fun magnets.

I have a bracelet that I wanted to hang up but was too big for a magnet to hold. I hot glued two extra magnets to the back.

Now it's perfect!

I had half of these out on my dresser and the other half were hanging on my lamp from the little knob that you use to turn it on. This is so much better!

I'm linking up to Made by you Mondays at Skip to my Lou.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Puzzle Reorganization

Tonight I tackled our puzzles.

I'm in one of those moods where I need to reorganize everything. It just doesn't seem like things are working anymore.

I think part of it is that as the kids get older and life happens, things have to be tweaked.

I also think that I'm used to moving every few years having been a military family for 20 years, and now that I've been here about two and a half years my body clock is telling me it's time to move again.

Well, we aren't moving again, so I've been getting rid of things (which you haven't seen) and I'm reorganizing things in ways that work better for us.

This is the before picture:

It wasn't bad, but I felt like it could be better. Those puzzles are two deep on that bottom shelf also. It's very deceiving how many puzzles are in there.

This is what it looked like when I was finished.

I cut the top off the box and stored it in the ziploc with the puzzle. You've probably seen the idea before. I used to do that with the girls' puzzles about 13 years ago but then when Caboose started doing puzzles most of his were the Thomas puzzles that had three to a box. Those boxes were sturdier than most so I got out of the habit.

By the way, there are almost 50 puzzles in those baskets! See how deceptive that looks. We're obviously puzzle people.

I started another organizing/reorganizing project as soon as I was finished with the puzzles. I'm on a roll!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

$1 Jeans

This morning when Hubby left for work he asked me if I had a dollar bill because he was wearing jeans. I was still pretty much asleep so the oddity of the question didn't register.

I told him there was one on the kitchen table he could pick up on his way out.

Hubby leaves very early, and I don't always really wake up when he tells me bye. This morning about five minutes after he left, it registered what he'd said, but I knew it had snowed some overnight so I didn't want to call him while he was driving.

A couple hours later when I got up and called him, I asked him if he had to pay a dollar to wear jeans when it wasn't casual Friday.

It turns out that they have a fundraiser once a month and they can wear jeans on a day other than Friday and pay the dollar for the fundraiser.

Then it all made perfect sense.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Game Cabinet Reorganization

Our game cabinet was originally a storage for my scrapbook albums and supplies when we lived in Illinois and then again when we moved to Virginia. Now I am fortunate to have an area where I get to spread out and I have room for all my scrapbooks and the mass of products that follow them.

So I used the storage armoire for our games. We have a lot! We like to play games!

So this is what the game cabinet looked like until about six months ago (which means for about two years).

About six months ago I was searching for a spot for Hubby to put his things. Books and papers and notebooks and stuff when he brought them in the house. I gave him a basket-type box, but it was out in the open and usually overflowing so it just wasn't working.

The kids and I went through the game cabinet, purged what we thought we could, and gave Hubby the middle shelf. (This is where I wish I had a before picture from this morning.)

Our games were just not fitting very well though. They were hard to get out, if we had a new one it wouldn't fit, etc. Then I remembered an idea I saw in a magazine several years ago.

They used expandable scrapbook organizers to score game pieces. In the idea they actually hung the game boards on the wall behind a sofa. I didn't go that far.

The expandable organizers I purchased are called memory keepers. They are polypropolene and will hold a 12x12 sheet of scrapbook paper, if you so desire. They have an accordion fold on the bottom for expansion, and there are two snaps on the top flap depending on how full you fill the organizer. They come in packs of 10 or 12 at Michael's (and probably your other craft and scrapbook stores) and the weekly coupon would knock the price down. They were already on sale this week.

I was able to get rid of all these boxes. Many were bent and falling apart, or much too large for the game they were holding.

This is what they look like now:

Here's a dinosaur game we've had forever, and the board folds up into a square shape so it was able to go in the pocket as well.


Dora Candy Land (all the boards that don't fit in the pockets are folded up on a shelf...I'm going to use my labelmaker and put a label on the outside of each one so you can tell which board is which without opening them all up):



Even Connect Four and Trouble:

Here is what the game cabinet looks like now:

The pockets on the bottom shelf hold card games — Dutch Blitz, one holds several decks of Old Maid (each held together by a ponytail holder or silly band since we don't seem to own regular rubber bands) — you get the idea.

In reality, my labelmaker will probably get a workout because I think I might put a little label on the top corner of each pocket with the name of the game. And if I do one, I'll do them all, even if you can see what game is in the pocket. Because I'm weird that way.

I'm linking up with Thrifty Decor Chick's Organize It Linky Party and Works For Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.

Friday, February 18, 2011

MG Sparky — MT2

I realized when I was linking up Sparky's previous trips, I never posted a follow-up to her Bolivia trip last October.

I know why I probably didn't. We were a little consumed with some doctor trips from a bacteria she brought back, which was intestinal. And since this was only a few weeks before Hubby's surgery, I was especially concerned. Actually I was a little freaked out. But Sparky was all clear just prior to Hubby's surgery and he was fine and it was all good.

And just in case you're curious and want to know, she contracted campylobacter, we have no idea how she contracted it, she did not drink any water, they take their own food, she did nothing different from anyone else on the trip (except she was around some children and a dog, but she did use the hand sanitizer properly), she wiped her lips after the shower with a clean cloth before she licked her lips, etc. Everyone is clueless and it will go down as a mystery.

Everything was a little more complicated when she was prescribed an antibiotic that the doctor hadn't prescribed for the last five years because it makes most people sick but was the one she needed. It made her sick. She couldn't quit throwing up. So we ended up in the ER and went home with a prescription for the second best medicine, hoping it would work. And IV meds wouldn't work because the medicine needed to be taken orally and processed through the system. Fun, fun.

I thought the best thing to do would be to show you a few pictures from her trip and then share a couple of pictures from her letter she sent out to people who contributed to her trip:

Thank you for your prayers and support for my trip to Cochabamba, Bolivia, that I took October 10-16, 2010. I had a great time and God really worked in my life on the trip. This was the first trip that I have taken where *** was building a church, and it was a new and different experience for me.

I worked in the kitchen helping cook the food, cleaning up afterwards, and doing the dishes. I liked experiencing the different culture of Bolivia. It was definitely not something that I had encountered before. The coolest thing about the trip was that after the dedication service the night before we left, a lady that had been sitting by me came to know Christ as her Savior as a result of the service. And since there were people there that spoke English they acted as translators for me when I had the opportunity to have conversations with people. That was another thing that I greatly enjoyed about this trip.

It was amazing to see how quickly the building got finished, and how it was already being used. Although after the trip, I still feel like Africa is my place to be when I go into the missions field full time, it doesn’t diminish the excitement of having gotten to go to Bolivia on this trip.

This is a picture she took from her window seat looking at the city sitting down in its valley in the Andes.

They drove by where they were building something, and Sparky was amazed that they were using what looked like bent and jerry-rigged wood pieces to hold it up. And that's actually what it looks like even though the quality of the picture is not the best.

The possible culprit of the campylobacter.

The bird she saw every day. We're all jealous!

Another possible, but much cuter, culprit of the campylobacter!

Sparky looks tall! Sparky looks tall! (If you don't know, she's 4'11" and done growing, and I can say that because I'm 5'1". I'm done growing too. I'm into shrinkage age. Someday I'll be as tall as her.)

Sparky took several pictures of statues that were in the intersections. They almost look like our traffic circles here in Michigan, but I can't see enough of them to tell. But the statues are large and varied in theme. This one was interesting...corn.

The group went to see what was the tallest statue of Jesus in the world, the Cristo de la Concordia, at 34.2 meters in height, on a pedestal 6.24 meters, bringing it's total height to 40.44 meters. It had been specifically built slightly taller than the more famous one, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, so that Cochabamba could boast the tallest statue. In November, 2010, Poland unveiled a much taller statue, so now it's not the tallest. But it was when Sparky was there.

Of course all of that is dependent on whether you count the mound and the crown, and then the one in Cochabamba is still tallest.

The holes are for air to go through. The group went up in the statue. They were in the armpit. It still feels wrong to say that.

This is the project they worked on and completed in three weeks.

I hope you enjoyed a small and varied taste of Cochabamba, Bolivia, South America. And a little trivia to boot!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Naïveté Is Bliss

Sparky always has to fly to meet the rest of the group wherever they are leaving the country. The last two times have been from Miami.

Even though she could take two checked pieces of luggage on the international flight, she is only allowed one because the group may need her second one to take food or materials or tools. This time we had prior permission for her to take two so she could take all the items for the orphanage.

Her chaperone (who she flies out of Michigan with) suggested that they upgrade to business class so they didn't have to pay any domestic baggage fees. The cost was pretty much a wash.

Hubby and I were joking about the free beverage, and I said that it did say she'd get a free cocktail, and Sparky said, "You mean I get shrimp!?"

She's so sweet. We had a really good laugh about that one.

Her chaperone had some fun at her expense too. She made fun of her because the seats were bigger in business class and Sparky's feet didn't touch the ground.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sparky's Newest Journey

We were packing again at our house. This is a suitcase full of 100 stuffed animals, over 200 pencils, two Ziplocs of diecast cars, six dozen combs, and a few hundred ponytail holders. They are for an orphanage in the Dominican Republic.

This is the last week of a four-week project where the group is building a church for local missionaries. Sparky is going to have some special opportunities to teach Bible stories during the week to both Dominican children and to the American missionary children. She is very excited!

She was able to fit all of her clothes and personal items into her carry-on and backpack, with the exception of a few packages of trail mix and an extra bag of cashews. The second hard suitcase has 30 more stuffed animals, dum dum lollipops, soft peppermints, and other goodies. It helped that she didn't have to take bedding, a pillow, or towels this trip.

Her suitcase is new to her (less than $5), but it's basic black. Somewhere behind the scenes she usually loses her luggage strap, so she needed to mark her bag to identify it on the luggage carousel easily. She opted for "MG" for Missionary Girl. It's lime green nail polish.

Her so-far always chaperone:

They will also be visiting a Haitian refugee village in the Dominican at the end of their week. They will purchase food at a grocer and distribute it to some of the families. Over the course of the project they will have fed every family in the village.

Togo, West Africa, last February.

Cochabamba, Bolivia, last October.

In May, she's going to Nicaragua.

Her passport is filling up!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Floating Isn't Floating Anymore

We have floating shelves in our kids' rooms to display their collectibles. I don't know what it is about the floating shelf, but it makes me a little nervous. It's just hanging there. Floating.

We had floating shelves in our bathroom, but they weren't floating quite right. There was a gap at the top and they leaned forward. Bothered me every time I walked in the bathroom. I dealt with it for about one week.

Then I bought black iron brackets at Ikea and placed them as supports under the shelves. Actually Hubby and I did, and we didn't even attach them to the shelves. We just left the shelves attached to the walls as they were and attached the brackets to the wall for support of the shelves. Worked like a charm.

So when Sparky told me that 'Big Derek' almost hit her on the head the other night, and when she started placing things back up and they were sliding off, I knew we had a problem.

These are her hanging shelves right after we finished painting her room a couple of weeks ago.

You can tell the left one is slightly droopy. I had already taken the wall bracket down, redrilled holes, and put in new anchors. I think the bracket had bent a little and that was the problem. It started pulling away from the wall again. (I usually don't take the brackets down when I paint the walls. I just paint around them with the knowledge that if and when I take them down, I'll have to do some work on that area. I'd have holes to plug up anyway.)

I had four more of the black brackets from Ikea that I planned on using for another shelf in our mudroom area that I've never put up. Sparky and I decided that was the best option for her shelves, because she didn't want to lose those green shelves.

It works and it matches the black bed. If and when we ever take those down, there are a lot of holes in that wall, and they all have brackets in them!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tax Time Tip: Charitable Donations

If you itemize deductions on your tax return, tax deductible charitable donations can be another way to reduce your total taxes.

There are at least a couple of valuation tools on the internet that make calculating your donation so much easier. I remember trying to value donations in the mid '90s and it was always a guessing game.

First of all, if you use TurboTax (and even if you don't), there is ItsDeductible. You can put in the value of non-cash and cash donations, and then when you are preparing your taxes you can import the total straight into TurboTax.

Even if you don't use TurboTax, you can still use ItsDeductible, keep a printout for your tax records or tax preparer, and just put the total of your contributions in your tax return (or give it to your tax preparer).

The Salvation Army also has a valuation tool for charitable donations. It's not interactive but still useful.

One tip for using ItsDeductible, as you finish a page, click to add your items from that page even if you have more to add later. It will not remember them once you leave that page if you don't add them. I entered an entire contribution once and then thought I could just hit "add" and it would take everything I'd entered. I figured it out the hard way.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How Do You Feel About Your Dentist?

I'm sure that question could garner a whole host of answers!

I first talked about our new Michigan dentist in October, 2009. I mentioned loving him, and his office. They have a monthly drawing for patient appreciation, and I'd won the adult drawing of two $50 restaurant gift cards. Very nice for our family that does not eat out so inexpensively anymore.

That same month, Buddy won the drawing for the kids, which was a $50 gift card to an entertainment chain store and was able to get a video game he'd been wanting for the wii. Nice, indeed. (Here's the link if you wanted to read the original post.)

Then last April Caboose won the kids' drawing. I had a theory on that one though.

While Hubby was recuperating from his surgery, one of the cards he received in the mail was from our dentist. Hubby had his teeth cleaned a few weeks before surgery and the office knew about it. They included a small gift card to Wendy's with the greeting card with a note to "give Kayren a break from waiting on you hand and foot."

Our orthodontist office is in the same building as our dentist, and Hubby went with me when we took Buddy for his visit on MLK day. He popped in to see the dentist office staff and say thanks in person and that he was recovering well.

Today we received an unexpected package on our front porch.

It's 24" long.

It's 13 1/2" wide.

It's 14 1/2" deep. It's a big box.

I opened it to reveal this:

It's called "Something for Everyone."

The card says, "Glad you're feeling better. Make sure you're brushing and flossing!" Then it has the names of all the dental office staff.

Unexpected kindness. That's just one of the reasons we love our dentist.
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