Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

Yes, These are OLD Chairs!


This summer the high school that I graduated from had a garage sale to sell off some old items that they no longer needed.  I thought it might be interesting to see what was there, so I went to check it out.  They had lots and lots of old metal and wooden chairs that had been used when I was a student and probably when my parents were students!  They were dusty, scratched, and many of them showed water damage.  I decided to get some of the chairs because I knew they were tough old things–much sturdier and hardier than what is available today.  I figured if they could survive 50+ years at a public high school, surely they could get us through the remaining years we have homeschooling our own kids.

I cleaned the chairs up, but I asked my Dad if he might be interested in refinishing the chairs for fun.  I guess it really didn’t matter that they looked old and worn, but I thought it might be nice to try to fix them up as nice as they could be.  My Dad agreed to work on the four chairs that I had bought, so he took them in pairs to refinish.

When those chairs came back to my house, I could hardly believe it!  Didn’t my Dad do an amazing job?!  These chairs seriously look better than they ever did before, and they are just as sturdy as if they were brand new!  I am very thankful that my Dad took the time to do this.  I think these chairs are ready for at least another 50 years of use!

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2015 Painting Projects

Painting Collage

Every summer I rotate around the rooms of our house and do some painting.  I had not gotten around to the kids’ bedrooms since 2008, so it was definitely time for a change.  After all, my kids are now teenagers, and the “little kids” look just didn’t fit anymore!

I got a late start this summer, so I am glad that I got as much done as I did.  I didn’t make it to the living room or kitchen, so I guess that will wait until next summer.

I started in the boys’ room.  My biggest issue in there was removing the camping-themed border.  That crazy border just wouldn’t come off!  I had to scrape and scrape, and even then it only came off in little, tiny bits.  Once that was finally removed, however, the rest of their room went pretty smoothly.

The girls wanted a “focus wall” in their room.  I let them pick out the colors, and I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical of their choices!  I really couldn’t imagine such a dark shade of blue on a wall, but I wanted to do what they chose, so I plowed right in.  My biggest obstacle in that room was the paint on the floor.  Yes, the table that I had just set a new can of paint on collapsed spilling most of the gallon on the carpet.  Fun….  We worked for several hours cleaning up that mess, but it doesn’t look too bad now.  We’ve needed new carpet for quite sometime, so maybe this just bumped it up on our priority list a spot or two.  Kara said that I should be glad that it was the neutral color that spilled and not the dark blue–now there is an optimist for you!  🙂

I dreaded doing the computer room, but it had to be done.  That room is where we “live,” so it was pretty messy and full of stuff–some of it very heavy stuff.  Again, I just plowed right in–what else could I do?  John helped to pick the color.  I was originally going to use a tannish neutral color, but John persuaded me to be a little bit more bold and try a soft shade of green.  Again, I was kind of skeptical, but now that the change has been made, I am so glad that I listened to him!  It really has made a cozy room!

My biggest obstacle in the computer room (other than the furniture) involved the throw rugs.  We have always kept throw rugs in this room because we want to protect the wood floor.  Several years ago, however, I noticed that the rug underneath my computer desk was deteriorating and leaving quite a mess.  I didn’t want to deal with it, so I put it off and put it off until painting time came.  By that time I had a huge problem!  There was a sticky saw-dust like film all over the floor that had to be scraped off with a razor blade.  Wow.  Just wow.  Eventually I got it all cleaned up and repolished the floor, but there was NO WAY that I was going to put that crazy rug back on the floor.  I started looking online for something else, and I found a clearance rug on Walmart.com that was originally $500 marked down to fifty dollars!  Yes, you read that right:  $50!  And the measurements looked like it would fit well.  I ordered it, and when it came I was so pleased!  It has added a bit of sophistication to this room, and I am so thankful for it!

I originally wasn’t going to paint the hallway, but it needed it so badly that I just went on ahead.  I used the same paint as I used in the computer room, and it looks so much better!

So, that brought my 2015 painting to a close.  Painting is a job that is never done, so there will be more to come…

I am going to add a Smilebox slideshow to this post to show more of how the rooms turned out:

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Stocking   Collage

Because of our crazy schedule this year, I was a little bit later than normal getting our Christmas Stocking Buttons finished.  I did get it accomplished by Christmas Day, though, so I guess that’s okay!

I began this tradition the year that Dan and I were married.  Each year, the Prairie Family members select a special memory from that year to symbolize on a button to place on the Christmas stockings.  Each year when we get these out, it is kind of neat looking back on all of these great memories!

This is what was selected this year:

  • Dan:  playing Lazer Wolf in Fiddler on the Roof
  • Lois:  directing David’s Dynasty at Heartland Christian School
  • John:  taking voice and piano lessons at the college
  • Brock:  focusing on playing the fiddle
  • Cosette:  going to summer camp and the fall retreat at Bethel Bible Camp
  • Luke:  learning to play Mario songs on the piano
  • Kara:  getting our new guinea pig, Ginger (who was pregnant with SEVEN babies!)


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Learning to Sew


The past few months, the girls have been going to a friend’s house to work on sewing projects.  They both love it so much, and I am so thankful that this special lady is taking the time to share her talent and skills with them.  So far they have made a tote bag, a simple quilt top, and these cute cropped pants:

Melissa Sewing

When Cosette and Kara were cast as Tevye’s two youngest daughters in Fiddler on the Roof, they immediately asked about being able to sew part of their own costumes.  I talked it over with their teacher, and she thought they could put together the skirts that they needed.  So, the girls went over to her house on a Saturday afternoon and whipped out a couple of darling skirts that they will use for the musical.  (That is what Kara is sewing in this entry’s first picture.) Believe me, they are DELIGHTED and can’t wait to start the dress rehearsals so they can wear their new skirts!  🙂

We are so blessed with many, many friends.  Truly our lives are rich, and we are very thankful!

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Gift Collage

It is wonderful being on Christmas break from school.  We love school, but taking a breather every now-and-then helps keep us all on track.  (It also gives me a chance to do things like catch up on this blog!)

We’ve pretty much been relaxing for the last few days.  The kids have been enjoying trying out their new gifts, watching movies, etc.  We’ve also been working on science projects….but that’s another story for another future entry!  🙂

The unicycle-type thing that Kara is riding in this entry’s picture is quite an interesting deal with an interesting story.  It is called a Cyco-Cycle, and I saw it on a Black Friday sale and thought that it looked like something the kids would enjoy.  So, I ordered it online not knowing who exactly would be receiving it.  Then I waited…..and waited….and waited!  Other things I had ordered at the same time came with no problems, but this cycle just didn’t come!  Finally I checked on it’s shipping status, and, believe it or not, it came back as “item is not shippable–destroyed in shipping.”  Destroyed???  How could this possibly be destroyed to the point of being undeliverable??

Anyway, I contacted the company, and they said that my money would be refunded if the item ever actually made it back to them.  That gave me a lot of confidence!  😛  I still wanted to get one of these as a gift, and I was fortunate in that they still had some available to order at the Black Friday price.  So, I placed a second order and hoped for the best on getting my money back on the first one.

Eventually it all did work out:  the money was refunded, and this one arrived in good shape.  As I got my list together for gifts, it was obvious that this one would go to Kara, and she has loved this silly thing!  It is more like a unicycle than anything else I have ever seen.  At first, she rode it hanging on to the seat, but now she can ride all over the place without hanging on (as the picture for this entry clearly shows!).  She can make it turn and twist wherever she wants to go, and can’t wait until the weather is nice enough and the days are long enough for her to ride it when we take our family walks in the evening.

Another interesting gift that was received this year was the Make-Your-Own-Music-Box kit that Kara bought for Cosette.  Cosette had seen these in a catalog and had wanted to try one, but I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to make it work.  This thing is just a plain music box with no song built-in.  To make it play, you have to make your own song strips with a special puncher.  It works very much like a player piano.  To me, it looked kind of complicated.  It wasn’t intimidating to Cosette, though!  It didn’t take her long at all to jump onto Sibelius to write out the notation for “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”  Here is a picture of her doing that:


Then she got busy with the paper strip and her special puncher and got that all ready.  When she put it into her little music box and turned the handle, here is what happened:

Pretty cool, huh?! Not bad for a first try!  Since this one, she has put together another strip of “On the Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady.  She’s going to keep all of the songs that she makes and is writing the dates on them so she’ll be able to keep track of that as she grows up.  I think it’s a very neat hobby!

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Boy, all of our Christmas decorating was way behind schedule this year!  We did get it all done, but it was close!

The Prairie Family had fun picking out what to put on our stocking buttons again this year. Each year, each person picks out something special about that year to symbolize on a button that is pinned to the stockings.  Each year, the buttons accumulate and the stockings get fuller and fuller! It has been a fun tradition that we started the first year that Dan and I were married, and I’m glad that it has continued.  I am also glad that several years ago I put together a list that I update each year with explanations of what the buttons mean.  There are so many buttons now that it would be impossible to remember them all without my cheat sheet!

Here are what each member chose this year:

Dan: Paint Your Wagon; he really enjoyed playing Mike Mooney in the CCC spring musical.

Lois: String Quartet; Our family grew a lot musically through our string ensemble.

John: CCC Choir; He loved being part of this group!

Brock: Barbershop; He has enjoyed learning to sing barbershop style.

Cosette: Piano; She has generally loved piano, but has especially appreciated getting our upstairs piano this year.

Luke: Jolly Ranchers; He loves those things!  🙂

Kara: Sewing; Kara has loved learning to sew this year at a very special teacher’s house!

So, another year has come and gone, and another year is highlighted on our stockings.  2013 has certainly been a year of blessing and fun!

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The kids have wanted to enter items at the county fair for several years.  I have been hesitant to let them do so because I didn’t want to deal with hurt feelings, hyper-competitiveness, etc.  Early in the summer, the girls again began to talk about entering items at the fair, so I gave my usual speeches.  You know how they go:  “I guess I really wouldn’t mind taking things to the fair as long as you understand that ribbons are simply judges’ opinions.  If you are happy with your projects, then that’s all that matters.  I don’t want you getting discouraged because you may not get the ribbon you think you deserve.  I also don’t want you to brag if your project gets a better ribbon than someone else’s.  That’s just not right, and if that happens, we won’t do it again.”  And so on….  The girls assured me that they understood all of these things, so I decided to give it a try this year.

So, the girls picked out some of their favorite crafts from the past year to enter.  Then the week before the fair, Cosette started working on a painted star craft just for fun.  The more she worked on it, the more she liked it, and she thought she might like to take it to the fair too.  Well, she painted the front, but didn’t finish it for several days.  I kept reminding her that she’d need to finish it or she wouldn’t be able to take it to the fair.  “Don’t worry, Mom.  I’ll finish it on time.  I’ll work on it later!”  It sat, and sat, and sat, until the morning that the entries were to be taken to the fair.  I told her that I guessed the star would have to stay at home.  She thought she could still finish it, though, and got busy painting it.

I told her that I didn’t think it would have time to dry.  After all, the star base is a soft cardboard.  Using watercolor paints just soaked that cardboard!  The whole thing was absolutely soggy!  She kept painting, though.  The star was so wet that when we picked it up by the hanger, the star tore!  I told her that it really was just too late to get that star into the fair, but again she assured me that it would all be ok.  She’d fix it up with hot glue and set it on an air vent to dry.  By noon that day, the star was dry enough to attach the bling, so she looked through what I had on hand, and we ran the star along with our other entries to the fair.

On the way to the fair, I again reminded Cosette not to be too disappointed about ribbons–especially on the star that was thrown together at the last minute.  I told her and Kara both that there is no way to predict how these things will be judged, and they said they understood that, and really just wanted the fun of seeing their projects at the fair.  So, we filled out the entries, left the projects, and went on our way.

The next day was the fair parade.  The girls were on the library’s float, and we were to pick them up at the fair after the parade.  When I went to the building to meet them, Kara came up to me and said that they had found their projects in the display cabinets, but that they really didn’t understand the ribbons.  “Oh, no, here it goes….”  I thought!  Kara went on to say that her lampshade and Cosette’s key chains both had blue ribbons, but that Cosette’s star was in a separate case with a purple ribbon on it.  They didn’t know what a purple ribbon was!  I couldn’t believe it until I saw it for myself:  yes, Cosette’s star that I almost did not let her enter won Grand Champion!

Needless to say, the girls were very pleased with their entries.  I did remind them that even though the star got a good ribbon, putting projects together at the very last minute is really not the best plan for making fair entries.  I told them that really these things should be planned and put together with great care, and they both agreed that they will work on things throughout the year that we can enter in next year’s fair.  Brock has also expressed interest in entering something, and, who knows?  Maybe I’ll even put something out there.  Of course, there will be the usual speeches about not getting too ribbon-focused, etc., etc.,!

Fair Collage

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