Monday, July 27, 2015

Make your stock contractor cabinet look custom!

The stock cabinet in our master bathroom was white and blah. A little paint and some decorations did wonders for it. Here is what I did.

First, I removed all the hardware off the doors. I put all the doors and drawers on a plastic-covered table in a separate room with plenty of room to work in.

I cleaned everything very well and rinsed it. I found some wood embellishments at Hobby Lobby and glued them on well with wood glue. I used Elmer's Carpenter's Color Change Wood Filler (It is paintable and doesn't stink ) and went around all the edges of each piece with my finger to fill in the crack between the embellishment and the cabinet face. Makes everything looks more finished and custom.

I put 3 coats of Annie Sloan's Coco paint. No sanding, no primer. Just paint. There was no smell with this paint. I loved it!

I put one coat of Acrylic polyurethane in FLAT. You need to put the polyurethane BEFORE you glaze. The chalk paint will suck it up before you can wipe the glaze off and you will cry.
After the polyurethane has dried after about 3 hours, you can glaze. I used some leftover glaze from my front door project. The recipe is Modern Masters Extender with Benjamin Moore paint in a 4 parts extender to 1 part paint.  The Paint is shown below the Super Spec D.T.M. Acrylic Low Lustre Bronzetone P25 60. I did not use the wax. This is a bathroom that gets hot and humid. Wax might be OK for a piece of furniture in my living room. Not in the bathroom.
I glazed all the doors. I let dry for 48 hours. Don't skip this step or try to shortcut. The extender makes the paint dry very slowly. If you try before, you will have a mess. After it had dried for the full 48 hours, I put 3 coats of the flat acrylic polyurethane. I put it all back together. Then I squealed with delight. I am so happy with it. 

First cabinet door has glaze. Second doesn't.
See what a different the glaze makes to the color and the overall look!

Love this!

Final product! Super thrilled with the results!
Here are the issues I found that you can avoid.

-First, when you are painting, the doors needs to be elevated from the table. My friend suggested little plastic triangles you can get from Home Depot or Lowe's for just such a project. I will do that next time to avoid globs of paint drying on the underside. I was careful, but it still had puddling underneath.

-Next, don't get fancy and try to do cracks and such. It dried into a glob and I had to sand it off. Avoid my mistake.

-Next, while Annie Sloan prides itself on not needing primer, I will put a primer when I do my kitchen cabinets. My husband accidentally chipped off some paint when putting the doors of the master bathroom cabinet back on. Maybe it wasn't completely cured. I'm not taking chances. A primer is a smart step on kitchen cabinets that get a lot of handling.

-I will rent a sprayer for the kitchen cabinets. It will go on quicker and smoother. 

The walls are next. I'm attempting a new wall treatment. More later. That giant mirror will be gone soon. I'm replacing it with a neato idea I had. I'll post that soon. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Unicorn Poop - Globular Pyrite

Well, how do you like that title! My homeschool students enjoy going to the local rock shop. The proprietor is a delightful gentleman who loves his work and love my students. Recently, I have taken to picking up a few rocks for my husband. I think they look very nice in his office. Iron Pyrite, or Fools Gold, is so beautiful. It usually comes in a cubical form of some sort. However, the rock shop got some from a private collection that was round. They don't know the source. The web isn't yielding much on it either. Doesn't it look like something that would come out of the back end of a unicorn? Thus the name was born. As you see in the picture, the top rock is the normal pyrite form. The bottom two show the round or globular pyrite.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Painted and Glazed Front Door


I did a bit of an update to our front door. It was a fun and easy process! Here are some before and after pictures. Glazing was a cool process! I used the materials described here

CLOSEUP - Isn't it yummy!?!

Spring Garden 2015

Wow! We have had a great spring so far. We have had an abnormal amount of rain this year and the plants are loving it. I have rarely had to turn on our drip irrigation system.

I found this great mason bee hive on Amazon. While we have lots of logs in our yard, this will encourage more bees to make their home near our garden and encourage pollination. It feels weird to have to go outside with a Q-Tip and pollinate the plants.

Our Forest Floor Landscaping is beautiful after another load. After Snugglebunny put in the drip irrigation system and dug through the original layer of newspaper and mulch, we had problems with weeds. We laid another thick layer of newspaper and called for another load of chopped up trees from our local tree trimmer. While we were happy to finally get a load, we weren't home when he dumped and he put it directly in front of the garage where I park my car. He also put 200 times more than we wanted. Okay, not 200 times, but a LOT more than we wanted. We also had a massive amount of huge oak logs. I hired one of my students and my youngest son and we all worked like dogs for about 2 weeks to get it moved to the backyard. It is thick in our backyard. Thick like chunky peanut butter. It is settling in nicely. We won't need another load for a long, long time. Isn't it gorgeous!

Another load of chopped up trees to add to our Forest Floor Landscaping.
The delivery guy went a little nuts.
Looking Awesome!
We tried artichokes this year which did very nicely! The trick is to plant them in the winter, let them grow all winter and they will make some delicious artichokes come spring. Man they were awesome! They were on the smallish side but we got about 10 out of 2 plants. I understand that the older the plants are, the more they produce. They won't survive our hot summer, so I yanked them. Besides they are huge plants and took up half our box.
Artichoke plants are huge!

Our first year of artichokes was successful!

Green Beans are going crazy!

baby watermelon

melon is almost ready for picking!

hidden cucumber

striped eggplant

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Decorative Beehives are Beautiful Spring Accents for Home or Garden

This beehive is awesome because, well... BEES ROCK! Because I garden, bees are all the more cool and important to me. This old fashioned Beehive is decorative and easy to make.

I found this cool Pendant Shade wire form at Hobby Lobby. It was on sale for $20.00. I can use it to make more if I decide to.

I bought 50 feet of some pretty thick rope at Lowes and used some acrylic hot glue to put it all together. It was very simple and quick to do. I followed the instructions here except that I didn't use a Kitchenaid bowl, but rather the wire form. It came off easily and didn't require putting in the freezer.

I found some pretty sparkly bee pendants in the Hobby Lobby jewelry making section. I also found some large whimsical metal garden bees. Both are cute. It will live on my dining room table joining my Easter decorations and later will go out to the garden.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Seasons - they are a changin'

Here comes fall. One of my most favorite times of the year. The colors of fall complement my home colors and I decorate to the hilt in fall. This year, it has been more difficult to find the time to decorate. I have had to steal a few minutes here and there to put up decorations. I work outside of the home part-time and the other days, I have two additional students. I look up and it is 5:00 p.m. and they are about to go home. Where did the day go? It was spent pleasantly reading with students, grading math, laughing at comments made over card games, walking in the garden and making trips to the local rock shop. However, supper wasn't started and now I have to rush around to put it together lickity-split like. Hunger grabs teenage boys hard and they are often stalking me in the kitchen asking "What's for supper? I'm very hungry." I'll miss that when they are gone.

I love this season in my life. It changed without warning. There is no greater blessing than walking in the path He has laid out before us. Exhausting? Yes! Boring? No way! I know that while this season is busy, it won't last forever. It will change just as suddenly as it started. I am determined to enjoy every second of it. To cherish the funny laugh of my 1st grade student as he wins yet another Uno card game.  "That was a good game!" I wonder if he will remember those many years he spent at my kitchen table? I hold them in my heart.

I love watching my reluctant Freshman student grow and realize what he is capable of. He makes insightful comments without even trying. I don't want him to shortchange himself in life just because all the peers around him do so. He has great potential. I only have a short time to convince him of this.

My oldest son is in college, has a car and a job. I only get glimpses of him now. He has set up his laptop computer in the kitchen. We have great conversations between video games and college homework assignments. He recently discovered the electric guitar and we are treated to solo rifts daily. This kid taught himself to play guitar, piano, ocarina, and now electric guitar. Why do they turn into such interesting people and then leave????!!!

My youngest son is a Sophomore in High School. He is my science and computer guy. He recently announced that he is interested in something in the medical field. Well, that sounds great to me! "I'm thinking about being a field medic mom?" Uh, what? "How about a nice quiet doctor's office in town son?" "No, I want to be where the action is Mom." "People will be shooting at you while you are trying to practice medicine son." "Mmmm hmmm" Lord, help me!

Take time and enjoy the season in life where you are no matter how hard it is. Don't wish it away. One day you will miss those days!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Our Continuing Disaster Preparations/I Wanna be a Prepper/Homeschooling High School Credit

The title of this blog entry is long but accurate. My high school students studied disaster preparations this summer. Someone told me about the CERT program. After signing up for it here in Harris County, we discovered that our Texas school system offered a disaster preparation school credit based on the CERT program. Now, I don't really care what the Texas school system does because we homeschool, but colleges put more weight on these sorts of programs. So, off we went. We have been to the first class which our instructor dubbed "death by PowerPoint". She made it pleasant with her witty comments and the time passed quickly. Our class was filled with mostly teenagers with a few adults sprinkled in. Most of us were homeschoolers from our local homeschool group. It's gonna be fun! This week we are learning how to put out small fires. The two weeks following this are medical in nature. My youngest is interested in the medical field, so this will give him a taste of it all. He's pumped!

Now, the disaster preparation book I recently read said something to the effect of don't tell anyone you are doing disaster preparation or everyone and their second cousin will show up at your house at the smallest hint of a disaster. My heart is to help others in their time of need. I am doing my best to accommodate the influx of those who might seek help during times of crisis. I got a taste of this after Hurricane Katrina when our church cared for many displaced families from New Orleans. The Mormons are prepared to help others during times of disaster. Why aren't Christians? Ouch, that stung a bit.

One of the things that our CERT class emphasized was that most people are not prepared to take care of their own family during a disaster. We cannot depend on over-burdened government agencies or churches to help us during these times. That said, would you do me a favor? I promise, it is simple. Every time you go to the grocery store, pick one non-perishable or health item in your grocery cart and stock up a 3 month supply of it. If your budget won't allow this, just grab one extra. That's it.

So your stock doesn't go bad, shop from your stock-up supplies first and replace it on your next shopping trip. I keep a list of the stock-up items it my pantry so I know what I have. My pantry is small, so I'm storing the stock-up items in easily-accessible plastic tubs in our closets. The tubs are numbered and this number is referenced in my stock-up list for quick access.

Be wise and take some simple steps today to protect your family. Preparation is not panic. I want to scream when people insinuate that preparation is akin to not trusting God. Seriously? We trust God to protect us, but he gives us wisdom to make preparation. I think about when God gave Joseph an interpretation to Pharaoh's dream to prepare for the upcoming famine. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of gathering up food. Joseph's obedience saved all of Egypt and Egypt had enough to share with other countries. I wonder if others looked at this massive preparation and thought it panic and foolishness. Probably. They were the first people in line to buy grain when their pantry was empty.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Weirdness in the Garden

unidentified squash plant
2014 Spring Season has been weird. We have had a cold, long winter and a very mild summer. Everything got off to a slow start because the cold weather lingered. The cucumbers and tomatoes were not happy, but finally took off.

I had some volunteer plants come up this year. An unidentified squash plant of some sort decided to take root. I let it go, because I was interested to see what it would be. It never formed a mature fruit of any kind and the stupid squash vine borer got it, so I yanked it. It was huge and went all the way around the back of the garden box, around the side and to the front. I also go a volunteer tomato that I yanked because it was in a shady part of the garden.

yellow eggplant off of a "Black Beauty" eggplant

I planted a "Black Beauty" eggplant and got bright yellow small fruit. I think it was mislabeled. I'm sad because I really wanted some large purple eggplant slices this year to grill. They are so delicious. Now I have to figure out what to do with these small yellow things. I've sent a question off to the Harris County Extension office to see if others are having problems with mislabeling.

Finally, I've seen several large RATS running around the backyard fence. We recently had a lot of road construction that included knocking down a large forested area near our subdivision. Well, the rats have to go somewhere. They are enjoying the free organic buffet in my backyard. So gross. I haven't had a full-sized tomato in weeks. They are eating the green ones off the vine. I'm working on getting rid of them. They are a nuisance and carry disease. I also don't want them taking up residence in my house. They have to go.

Check out the rest of the garden pictures!

beginnings of a personal size watermelon
delicious cucumbers
overview of back gardens -
the Cypress tree is giving too much shade

sweet millions is such a good producer with sweet cherry tomatoes

pepper plants produce well in the heat

I can't believe I am still picking green beans!

Beautiful garden with a mixture of everything!

check out the purple basil!

I tried onions this year. Doing well!

my one and only cantaloupe was delicious!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Netflix knows better than parents and Hulu is disgusting

I was a bit puzzled when I saw that a TV-MA shows was accessed on my Netflix by a visiting teen. I have that thing locked down with a password and I have the Parental Controls set to "Teen". He was watching another approved show while I was away and switched over to this unapproved one. How could he access a TV-MA show with the Parental Controls still on? He didn't have the password. I clicked on the show and sure enough, it came right on with no warning.

Upon calling customer service, I found out that Netflix allows certain "popular" TV-MA shows to leak through on the Teen setting. Excuse me? The customer service was a young man and informed me that his young sister age 14 and her 15 year old friends often watched a sexualized TV-MA show. It was popular so it was allowed on the Teen setting on Netflix. He said that they probably shouldn't be watching that show, but they do. Really? So, since some parents today don't give a rip what their children watch, Netflix will allow TV-MA shows to slip through the Parental Controls because "everyone is doing it"?  Netflix has taken control of the Parental Controls. They have allowed themselves to become judge of what is OK for teens to watch. They know better than you do, you out-of-touch parent. If parents don't care what their teens watch, let them set the parental controls to "Adult" and be done with it. Attention Netflix: Don't assume that today's parents don't care. We do and we don't appreciate someone telling us they know better than we do.

Customer Service's solution was that I should change the setting to a younger child setting and manually switch it on my computer when I want to watch something else. Really Netflix? How about fixing your Parental Controls so that parents actually have control over what their own teenagers watch! Thanks for inconveniencing me, a caring parent, so you can look "cool".

Netflix, I'll give you a clue. Make the parental controls stronger. Allow parents to choose which show ratings can be shown in their own homes. I don't always agree with the ratings, but it is a start.

Don't think Hulu is off the hook here. I tried to sign up for them. They don't even have ANY Parental Controls. None. You have to call customer service and THEY have to change your birthdate to make it appear as if you are under 17. They default to smut. You have to exert energy to put protection on. You might as well not, there are a bunch of pornographic and "Gay and Lesbian" movies and shows that are labeled as "not rated" that are available for viewing to any and everyone under 17. How about "Inside the 50 Shades - real women confess"? Isn't that precious. Don't forget "Strictly Sexual" or "After the Porn Ends - Can they really live a normal life after porn?" There are many, many more. I was stunned by the number of pornographic shows getting through even with the "under 17" on. They will not be allowed in my house. I've cancelled my subscription after one day.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Homeschooling Other People's Children

It isn't as rare as you think. In the State of Texas, it is legal and becoming more popular. I currently home educate two children that are not my own.

My oldest graduates from High School this week (ackkk) and my youngest is a Sophomore in High School. They are both independent learners and rarely need my assistance. A weekly narration on the literature and history that was read that week with my youngest is the toughest thing we do. I also drive him to an outside science class and pick up the books from the library. I was becoming quite accustomed to having free time on my hands. To all you parents who are working hard with your elementary students, hang in there. Teaching them to be independent learners who are responsible for their assignments pays heaping rewards in High School and beyond. Don't miss out on this!

Starting over with two new students has been a challenge. Firstly, these are not my children and the parent's wishes and curriculum choices may not be my own. Lots of prayer, listening and love has gotten us through this first year. I started out the year with the kindergarten student in September. His brother, who was in 8th grade, followed after Christmas break.

The kindergarten student needed a lot of attention at first. I am teaching him to be a more independent learner even at this early age. I try to walk away from the kitchen table after reading the instructions for his Math-U-See page. I check his work and give him praise for his excellent work and gentle correction for any errors. This builds confidence that he can tackle a task on his own.

Since adding his brother after Christmas, I sometimes need a block of time to check work or give some instruction to the older student.  I am teaching him to play by himself without my having to initiate a game or giving ideas for projects. The phrase "go keep yourself busy" was initially followed with some instruction on what he could do to keep himself busy (play Legos, play with other toys, read a book, play outside, do an art project...). Now, I don't have to give suggestions. He already knows what he can do. When I catch him keeping himself busy, I give him praise.

We still play together a lot during the day. We play games, go outside in the garden, go for a walk, to the library, to the park, read a book, study a science subject he is interested in... He still needs and should get a lot of face-time with me. All children need blocks of undivided attention of a parent/teacher during the day. Home education affords the luxury of giving one-on-one attention to a student. Looking him in the eyes as he talks. Not interrupting a thought or idea. Letting him discover an answer on his own without interjecting. These are all important and NECESSARY to children. Charlotte Mason is an excellent resource on this.

His older brother has a lot of bad habits from public school I am helping him improve. His mother and I talk and text daily regarding progress, problems and ideas. She is currently in nursing school and her time is at a premium. She is doing her own studying but her children remain her priority. She is amazing!

We initially started out homeschooling with mom's curriculum choices. They were a public school curriculum that was mostly written for charter schools. The writers were family friends of hers and she had personally worked through the curriculum herself as a student. While the curriculum would work for some students, it wasn't working well for hers. She recognized that early and pulled the plug. We then tested and placed him in Math-U-See, a curriculum that worked well for my boys (with different learning styles). He went from an "F" student to an "A" student in short order. We stepped him back a bit to ensure that the basics were covered. That means that he will be playing catch-up this summer and continuing his math during the summer months this year.

We also changed curriculum in history and literature. I am doing Tapestry of Grace with my youngest, so he just jumped in where we were in history and literature. Narration is a new concept to him. He is coming along very well. It also was a bonus for my youngest to have someone to talk with about what he had read. It has been helpful all around.

Science was a challenge. After finding out he has a passion for all things fast, we made a visit to our local customization and racing guru. We had a personal tour of the shop. I am currently on the hunt for an engine of any kind for him to tear apart. I also had him do the TOPS science unit on Electricity. He needed a little more hands-on from me than I anticipated, but it was a fun unit. He'll do another book from this series next year. His dad will also give him some private car repair lessons.

I think my hardest challenge is getting him to recognize that he has to change the way he thinks about school. I am not the enemy or someone to try and fool. It isn't about trying to skate by with the minimum work. It is seeing that the school work has purpose. It is about fulfilling his passion that the Lord has placed in his heart. I am seeing a glimmer of that, but we aren't there yet. I pray that the Lord works on him in the coming months.

I am also careful to give my own sons my attention. I recognized a little jealously in my youngest son early on. We now have lunch "dates" by ourselves and that is helping. I also try to stop in his room and sit down while he plays a video game and make inquiries. He loves to give me some insider information on whatever game he is playing. I explained to him that the other students need some extra attention right now as they get settled into homeschooling. He is old enough to understand this and some of the tension he was feeling has been released.

It has been a challenge for me and my schedule. My paralegal work has suddenly picked up and now I go into an actual office two days a week. So I juggle everything and some things suffer. I am looking at a very dusty floor right now. My blog hasn't been touched in a while. My book writing has suffered. It is all worth it when I hear my kindergarten student sound out a word on his own. When my new student expounds on a literature book he thoroughly enjoyed. When they open up and share their passions. My students are beautiful treasures and I am so blessed to share my time with them.


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