Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sweet Banana Dreams

After walking my boys to school this morning, I pushed the stroller a little further on to the school where my husband teaches. I noticed something he'd forgotten to take with him when he left this morning and decided to bring it to him. It was a quiet morning in his class because many of his students were out taking their AP test. On AP testing days, my hubby brings breakfast for his students so they can perform their best on that big scary test. Pastries, fruit, milk, juice, etc. He and I had a nice visit; I showed the baby around the room and the kids cooed and smiled at her. On my way out, I asked if I could take a banana for our daughter. She was delighted with this and wanted to hold it. She carried it all the way. I snapped this picture when we arrived back home.

Friday, May 10, 2013

How to Create Your Own Rout of Snails

  • Buy a tarp at your local hardware store-- blue is pretty standard, but any color will do.
  • Take the tarp home.
  • Go to the backyard and put a bunch of stuff that you want to keep dry on the patio or next to the back porch.
  • Put the tarp over the items that need to stay dry.
  • When you are ready to use the things stored under the tarp, drop the tarp on the ground.
  • Use your items.
  • Ignore the tarp.  
  • A windy day will blow the tarp to the fence, where you will forget about it.
  • A few weeks later, notice the tarp near the fence; make a mental note to get it "later."
  • Leave the tarp by the fence for about two months. Be sure to notice it every so often, promising yourself that you'll get it "in a while."
  • After a really rainy day, decide that it is time to get the tarp.
  • Grab one corner of the tarp and gently lift the tarp (remember, it's wet).
  • Let out a yelp in surprise at the round things attached to the bottom of the tarp.
  • Laugh as you realize that it is not dog poop.
  • Pull the tarp across the yard to the clothes line.
  • Hang your tarp on the clothes line to dry.
  • Step back and count. You should now have between 25 and 30 snails of varying sizes speckling your new snail habitat.
  • Watch as your snails slither up and down the tarp, clinging expertly to the blue surface.
  • If, when you go out later to check on your rout, you notice a few snails are missing, check the other side. They may have gone up and over.
  • If your tarp falls down from another pelting rain storm, many of the snails will escape. If you hang the tarp again, as soon as the storm lets up, you will still have about a dozen snails left.
  • Also note, that these critters are wild, the tarp is not a permanent habitat, and they will all eventually (within a day or two) escape if left unattended.
  • Caution: if your snails are as big as your hands do not touch them, as they may be deadly.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Giant Chutes and Ladders

It all started as an activity for our Young Women. I am a counselor in the Young Women presidency of our congregation. We have weekly activities with the youth and the youth presidency is involved with the adult presidency as we come up with ideas and planning. One girl suggested we do a life size board game. We decided that Chutes and Ladders would be fun, and so it was put on the calendar. I was the most enthusiastic about it, and since we take turns organizing each week, I was selected to oversee the Giant Chutes and Ladders game.

I pulled out our board game and made my own smaller grid for the girls to play on. I have played Chutes and Ladders with my children MANY times, and I know that it can take the better part of an hour to get to the final square, marked 100. This is playing with only 2 or 3 players. I figured we'd have around 8-10 girls, and we only have 90 minutes for our activities, including opening exercises. SO, I came up with an 8x8 grid, leaving 64 playing spaces. I thought this seemed like plenty. I then modeled my chutes and ladders after those laid out on the real game board, with 7 of each. It looked like fun.

We decided that masking tape on the gym floor would be the easiest way to set up a game of such proportions, and I figured two-foot squares would be just about right (They actually turned out to be too small. A two-foot square is great for one person to stand in, but I didn't take into consideration the fact that multiple people share spaces sometimes, and it got a little crowded. I suggest three- or even four-foot squares). I used plain masking tape for the grid. I then bought green and blue painters tape to mark the chutes (green) and ladders (blue). I figured different colors would help ease any confusion as to whether you were going up or down. I also printed out the numbers 1-64, printing four to a page and taped the numbers in each square.

I typed up different choices the girls can make, both good and bad. "I helped my brother with his homework," "I finished my Personal Progress" and "I brought a cheat sheet to my math test," "I skipped Seminary to go out to lunch." I placed a cup containing 3 choices at the top of each chute (bad choices) and at the bottom of each ladder (good choices). If they ended in a square at the top of the chute or bottom of the ladder, they pulled a choice out of the cup and read it to the group and then followed their consequence, either up or down. If they went up the ladder, they were rewarded with a small prize (I bought party prizes at the dollar store--bouncy balls, bracelets, candy jewelry, etc).

The final square, number 64, was their goal, and I had used masking tape to create an outline of the Salt Lake Temple. We discussed how life is full of ups and downs, choices and consequences. The chute was like repentance. It may set you back, but our Heavenly Father never kicks you out of the game. You may have to work a little harder, but it is still possible to make it to the top. The ladders illustrated that sometimes good choices put you ahead in life.  We played until every girl made it to the finish. We clapped and cheered each girl and gave her a crown (Daughters of a Heavenly King) when she reached the "temple."  They had a lot of fun and we applied a Spiritual note to it as well.

My kids came with me to help set up, and they tried out the board for me. They really enjoyed it and I promised that they could have their own board in chalk in the back yard. Last Friday when I got home from walking them to school, the morning weather was just right, and their sister was sleeping in the stroller. So I swept the patio, and drew the grid in chalk. I used my tape measure as a straight edge. I drew two sides creating a corner first, and marked every two feet as I went. I drew in a third side and then as I drew the horizontal lines across the board, I marked in the vertical lines, making the squares within each row as I went.

It only took me an hour total (including sweeping) to draw it out, mark the numbers, and draw in the chutes and ladders. It took me nearly 3 hours to do the tape on the gym floor. So, if you'd like to make your own, find multiple uses for it. Or do it outside with chalk. Our girls pulled the tape up as soon as we were done, and I forgot my camera. The Primary or the other Young Women who share our building might have liked to use it, but there was not that much planning ahead. So there was 3 hours of work destroyed in a matter of 10 minutes. But we had fun. I saved my blueprint drawing and my kids are enjoying it in the backyard. (I'm not sure why they're wearing helmets, but hey, safety first!)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Crooked House

Clearly, this is a post long overdue. I think the winter snap has frozen me from the world wide web. And the Spring Thaw has been just enough to distract me. I seem to only get to the computer when I have other business to attend to. I have even read e-mail without making a reply because other matters have stepped in just as I finish reading. But, today, my routine has slowly come back into allowing me this "free time." So, if you would like to still be a part of my pseudo book club, please continue reading.

I debated whether to write this post as if you've all read the book (and since it's been so long since I announced the book, you very well may have read it.) But I thought if I spoke in vague terms, folks who haven't read it will be intrigued, go pick it up and then perhaps come back and comment (hint, hint). Plus it was such a shocker that I don't want you to find out the ending if you haven't read it.

Crooked House, as I said before, is one of Agatha Christie's 10 ten personal favorites. She had this to Crooked House  was pure pleasure... Practically everybody has liked Crooked House,  so I am justified in my own belief that it is one of my best." (Author's Forward)
say about it: "This book is one of my own special favourites. I saved it up for years, thinking about it, working it out, saying to myself: 'One day, when I've plenty of time, and want to really enjoy myself--I'll begin it!' I should say that of one's output, five books are work to one that is real pleasure.

This book totally side-swiped me. After I finished reading it, I sat and wondered about it. I even had the thought, "Did Agatha Christie know who did it when she started writing it?" Now, that would be absurd, to write a murder without knowing who your murderer was. But I was so surprised, that I couldn't help wondering if it was a surprise to the author as well.

Aristide Leonides has been murdered in his own home. He lived in his own wing of the house with his second wife, a woman 50 years younger than he. In another wing, is his oldest son, Roger, and his wife. They have no children. In the third wing of the house is another son, Philip, his wife, and their three children, Sophia, Eustace, and Josephine. In her own quarters is Miss De Haviland, the sister of the first Mrs. Leonides.

The cause of death? Poison injection. Mr. Leonides took insulin on a daily basis. The vial that was supposed to contain insulin was instead filled with the poison and injected directly into his body. Any member of the family had access to the poison, which was actually Mr. Leonides' own eye drops, and the insulin, which was kept in the bathroom cabinet.

Charles Hayward is engaged to Sophia, but they cannot move forward until the murderer is discovered. Charles is inclined to see if he can help get to the bottom of the mystery. He and Chief-Inspector Taverner are on the case. Who did it? Can you figure it out before it is revealed? You'll want to go back and read it again, as soon as you finish it.

I know that I announced And Then There Were None as my next read, however, I have since been distracted from it. I may get back to it later. But upon looking about at my bookshelves, I have noted so many "shiny" things, that I have a growing stack. I intend to post about them as I get through them, so stay tuned. I hope not to be offline for such a long space of time again.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Decorate Responsibly

To any person, professional or otherwise, who may choose to do interior decorating:

Use wallpaper with good sense.
Wallpaper can be a quick (if you know how to hang it) way to decorate a room. It may add a pop to a bland space, or perhaps some texture to a wall. It can be a lovely accent around the room. But, please, be responsible in your decorating.

If there is any chance at all that you may get tired of the wall paper, think before you hang it. If you might decide to move out or die before the wallpaper has served its sentence on your walls, think before you hang it. If that wallpaper is just so quirky that only you could love it, think of the people who will one day move into your residence after you have moved out of it. Will they love it, too? Or will it be the bane of their existence?

If you did decide to go ahead and hang that wallpaper, no matter how awesome and shiny that textured wallpaper may be, realize that you may tire of it. Fast forward your life. Suddenly, the teenage kid who really, really needed that wallpaper has moved on. How do we fix this? We have walls marred with your decorating choice. What's that? Paint over it, you say? Easy. No messing with glue removal, no priming the walls, just slap a coat of your favorite grey tinted white paint and you are all done. Now you have painted walls with a nifty design in them! WOW, what a great deal! Who knew that textured wallpaper could serve such a purpose? Your friends and coworkers will be amazed at how easy it was to fix it!

Ahem. Are you kidding me? There is a much better way. I have a friend who told me that the easiest way to remove wallpaper is to spray it with vinegar. The wallpaper practically falls off. Unless, of course you PAINTED it first! Then, of course the vinegar cannot penetrate the paint layer, thus leaving you to tear it all down by hand and THEN scrape off the backing that remains. Don't forget to spray it with the vinegar. It helps eliminate the leftover scraps on the walls.

One more thing.
If you have hung a lovely wallpaper border around the top of your walls, and then later decide to change the wall color, while leaving the border hung, mask it off. If you are afraid that painters tape will later tear the border when you remove the tape, then use a putty knife or other straight edge to cover the border when you paint up to the paper. You will then have less chance of leaving the old wall color showing and also leave the paper unpainted. If, however, the border is slightly peeling at the seams or top/bottom edges, it is time to remove it (using vinegar) before you paint. Then you may purchase a new border to apply after the paint has dried--you may even use the same one!

These tips may help you enjoy the time you have with your wallpaper. You won't look at it and wish that there weren't paint blotches all over the border. You will be happy with they way that awesome textured wallpaper looks as it drifts to the floor before you repaint the room. And it will ensure that the future residents of your current home aren't spending hours (4) peeling and scraping off your mistakes. Wallpaper can be a good thing if used responsibly. But it can also be a nightmare if it is not. Thank you.