The most requested thing for dinner around here? Noodles. With butter.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

This week

This brother and sister do a great job explaining Passion Week.

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Removing tacky residue from camping/travel gear DIY

I have this great piece of luggage that is both a soft-sided suitcase and a backpack.  It used to be the right size for carry-on, but as we all know, those dimensions have been steadily shrinking as airlines try to compel us to check our bags and pay their fees.

Back to the luggage...   I bought it in the early 90s for a short-term mission trip to Romania.  It worked really well- held everything I needed for 3 weeks and could be carried on my back with ease.  (I find wheeled luggage to be cantankerous, heavy, and unreliable- I've seen wheels bend, break, and come off of bags that were being wheeled over cobblestone streets, down curbs, and up bus steps.  Not really something I want happening on a trip.)

We are going on a train trip this summer across much of the US.  I need a perfectly-sized, sturdy bag with good shoulder straps and a padded waistbelt, so I dug into my closet and found ol' reliable.  But there was a problem.  The insides of the bag were coated with a tacky substance- it was like rubber cement that wouldn't come off.  I think the waterproofing had just corroded over the years and broken down into really yucky molecules of ick. 

The company that made the bag has a lifetime guarantee- they will repair or replace for free, so I sent it back to them as per their instructions.  Nope.  After many emails, they finally contacted me and passed the buck.  "We had no part in the manufacture of this bag."  Then they gave me the name of the manufacturer and told me I should contact them.  Grrrr.  They acted as if I had read the label on the bag incorrectly.  I'm not going to rat out the company, but I'll tell you that it starts with a "J" and ends with an "ansport", and previously had a good reputation in my mind.  Why would they put their label on something they wouldn't include in their warranty?  And why did they tell me they were sending the bag back but not really even try to send it until a month later after I sent 4 emails asking for tracking info?  I won't be buying their products again.  Ever.

Time for my own alchemy.  I figured since WD40 dissolved the glue left behind when I peeled labels off of jars, it might work to dissolve the tacky whatsits that were seeping out of the cloth of my favorite bag. 


In a well-ventilated area,  I sprayed the tacky sections liberally with WD40, saturating the cloth.  I then left it for 24 hours so the WD40 could do the work.  Don't do this in the house.  Let it sit in the garage or on the covered back porch.

Next step was to take very hot water, borax, Dawn, and a nylon scrubby (like you would use to clean potatoes) and go to town.  I sprinkled borax over the damp cloth, took the scrubby with Dawn and hot water and rubbed and scrubbed the heck out of the bag.  Then I rinsed it and put it in a front-load washer with Tide and a vinegar rinse.  Regular cycle.  After that, I put it in the dryer on very low heat and it came out looking great and smelling only faintly of WD40.  Best of all, it was not nearly as tacky- only a slight feel to it that I can live with.

I sewed up a seam, put the metal stiffener bars back in their places, zipped it up, and it is ready for our train trip to Chicago, Kansas City, Flagstaff, LA, and back home!    Three cheers for WD40!!!!!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Well, that was unexpected!

Last morning of Christmas break!  Got up around 7, sprung the dog from his nighttime jail cell (that's what he calls it), fed him and put water in his bowl so he could drink it really fast and then spit it back up again, washed myself up and then wandered into the kitchen for some coffee and a breakfast burrito.  Kiddo was already up and I was just getting ready to tell her what time we would be leaving for church when I turned around to look out the window and saw this:
Woo-hoo!  It's been cold, but not very wet,  so I didn't expect this.

Poor Gunther- he is one cold gnome!

We got almost 2 inches by the time it stopped snowing in the early afternoon. What a fun way to end our vacation time!  We stayed in, watched a movie, baked some bread, and put away the last of the Christmas decor.  School starts 2 hours late tomorrow (unless the roads get worse) and my students will probably be dying to find out who won the snow prediction contest.  

I love it when God surprises me like this!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Mary, did you know?

Not THAT Mary...
my best friend from high school in Texas, Mary D.

Mary, did you know that I thought about you last week?  I went to the movies and flashed back to 1977 when you were 16 and had your driver's license and I was only 15 and riding shotgun...

We went to the movies then.  We decided to go to that sci-fi flick that everyone was talking about.  We weren't especially into sci-fi, but it sounded interesting.  There weren't any big-name Hollywood types in it, but it sounded interesting.

When it was over, we just looked at each other- dumbstruck.  WHAT WAS THAT?

Me- that was amazing.
You- yeah.
Me- there was no swearing!
You- there was no sex!
Together- THE GOOD GUYS WON!!!!!!!!!!!!

And then we went to K-Mart and bought Star Wars T-shirts and called each other C-3PO and R2-D2 for a few months.  And somehow, I managed to see it 4 more times in the theater that year.

Ah, youth.

Last week brought it all back.  Only, I wasn't 15 but I went with a 15 year-old.  And our reactions were very similar to the ones from 1977.  And we can't wait for episode 8.  :->

Mary in Texas, I should probably look you up on facebook, but I don't have a fb account.  I hope you and your family are doing well and that you have equally good memories of our high school times!

May the Force Be With You.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Time sure flies when you are having fun!

So...  yeah.  I really have been having fun!

Last spring, after 5 years of teaching 6th grade math, I made a request to transfer to a different school to fill the gap where a friend was retiring.  This move would give me the opportunity to teach 8th graders- mostly Algebra, but some regular 8th grade math.

The move was good, but changing levels meant that I had to immerse myself in the Common Core (again... it hasn't improved) for the new levels and work on all new lesson plans from scratch.  So I have been a busy beaver, but enjoying my new school and students immensely.

8th graders seem like they are more than 2 years ahead of 6th graders in terms of maturity and understanding and it has been nice to not have to babysit them through the trials of middle school.  Another nice thing is that not one kid has come to me and said, "I don't have a pencil."  After 5 years of that (daily), I am glad to not have to hear it.

Been thinking lately about life and current events and this poem, written during the American Civil War, seems to offer my exact thoughts:

                  Christmas Bells
    I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
        And wild and sweet
        The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
    And thought how, as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom
        Had rolled along
        The unbroken song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
    Till ringing, singing on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,
        A voice, a chime,
        A chant sublime
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
    Then from each black, accursed mouth
    The cannon thundered in the South,
        And with the sound
        The carols drowned
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
    It was as if an earthquake rent
    The hearth-stones of a continent,
        And made forlorn
        The households born
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
    And in despair I bowed my head;
    "There is no peace on earth," I said;
        "For hate is strong,
        And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
        The Wrong shall fail,
        The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail.  

Amen and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Just Kidding

I finally figured out why there are so many unexpected little things wrong with my fairly new house.  The builder's initials are J.K.

So, every time he sent a note to his text-savvy workers, he probably signed it.  I'm picturing it something like this:
Guys, let's make sure the tiles on the kitchen counter are installed level.  Homeowners don't like their eggs rolling off and splatting on the floor.  Also, use plenty of grout and make sure to seal the counters properly!       -J.K.
Or maybe he sent one like this:
It's important to install outdoor faucets that work and don't spray everywhere when a hose is attached.  These are my showcase homes that shouldn't require much maintenance by the homeowners.  They certainly don't want to be mopping up their garage floors all the time because of leaks.       -J.K.
A good builder would certainly send this to the construction workers:
I'm coming to check on things tomorrow, please make sure all the molding is securely attached- even in places that can't really be seen.  We wouldn't want a piece to come off and get stepped on.     -J.K. 
Another note about safety:
Please make sure to purchase windows that have a lock at the 4 inch mark.  This way, the homeowners can get fresh air but no one can get into their homes.  These are quality windows and are far superior to non-locking ones that owners have to rig up with dowels in the window tracks to keep them from opening.   -J.K.
And my favorite note that the workers probably got a good laugh at:
Smoke alarms need to be placed as high as possible but still low enough for homeowners to reach with a suitable ladder.  They shouldn't have to arrange their dining room chairs to fit under the legs of the ladder so they can climb up and barely reach the chirping smoke alarm in order to change the wimpy battery at 10:44 at night.      -J.K.

So you  see, you really can't blame my builder for all of the installation sloppiness and equipment flaws, he thought he was doing the right thing- it's just those unfortunate initials!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Darn you, Pinterest!

I confess- after years of resistance, I now have a Pinterest account.  I guess the Borg were right- resistance is futile...

I finally succumbed because I saw some cool school things that were only available via Pinterest and I thought since I changed schools this summer, I could use a fresh look at decor and Common Core, and stuff...

There's more than school stuff on Pinterest.      LOTS more.

And to be perfectly honest, I don't actually pin anything.  I just look.  Sometimes when I follow a rabbit trail into something really wonderful, I get the web address and bookmark it for later.

So I got my account and they wanted to know what stuff I found interesting.  I had 5 categories they wanted me to pick so I chose camping, Star Wars, education, US History, and home improvement.  I had no idea what they were going to show me based on those 5 things, but the results have not been boring.

I had forgotten how much I really like camping.  And that's where the coveting started...

I thought I wanted this:
Have you seen how they renovate these vintage ones?  Gorgeous!  But my car can't tow anything that heavy.  Besides, who has money for something like that anyway?  Unless I live in it full-time, it just isn't a viable option.

So I refined my desires to fit with something that the car could tow but still be useful for us and maybe a couple of friends to join us.

It's a fiberglass Boler trailer.  Same idea as a Scamp, Burrow, or Casita but I am partial to the Boler.  Sleeps 4 and you can often find used ones on craigslist for under $7000.  Right.  Like I have a spare $7000 just sitting around waiting for me to spend...  Sigh.  Also, I don't have any place to store one of these and I don't want to pay some place every month just to house my little dream trailer.

Revise the dream again!  The point is to be able to get out into God's creation and enjoy the fresh air but still manage to sleep rather comfortably at night.  What about my car?  Could we sleep in that?  Sure!  Just look at what Pinterest folks are doing to their vans and mini-vans...

Sleeping platforms and pull out kitchen drawers!  Yes, please!  This could work!  And then I went to Home Depot.  Do you know how much time, money and effort go into building sleeping platforms?  Plus- I no longer have space to start a woodworking project and I can't find my drill. A DIY version just isn't going to be built.
And that pull-out kitchen is convenient for a price- haven't seen one less than $1000.

What if I just got a nice inexpensive mattress and put it on the floor of the van?  There's used futons on craigslist all the time- that could work...  (except futons are really too hard for sleeping.)

I found a kid's full-sized foam mattress online that looked promising.  The floor of the van is not quite full-sized, but I thought I could squish it between the wheel wells.  (C'mon, Mazda... 4 more inches!)

It sort of worked, but I had to put the bungee cord across it to keep it from springing up again.
Back to the drawing board.  I measured and measured and measured some more and found that if I raise the bed about a foot or so,  there would be more room for the mattress and then I could store stuff underneath.  No wood- too heavy, and I have no tools...  After lots of research, I found a couple of camp cots online with the perfect price, dimensions, foldability, and strength.
Perfect fit, and it didn't hurt that they were blue.  I like blue.
And with the mattress- YES! There's even enough headroom for sitting.
Oh, this is going to be good!
Total cost- less than $90.  Not bad for a skinny Mazda and skinnier wallet.  And now, we camp!