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First, an item of business: yesterday, my humble little blog surpassed 20,000 visits!  That means, in the past two-and-a-half years, people have clicked over here twenty THOUSAND times.  Wow.  Thanks, everybody!  If I had my act together, I’d have thought of a giveaway.  Maybe for 25,000.  Any ideas?

Now, onto the fun stuff:

Have I mentioned how much I love Halloween?

Oh, I have?

Once or twice?

Thrice even?

So, yeah.  I love Halloween.

Jason took Nicolas out for some guy time today, so Kalen and I took the chance to spookify the yard.

I suppose introductions are in order.  That fellow on the right is Spot.  We acquired him years ago, when Nicolas was a toddler.  He was named (by Nicolas) after Rolie Polie Olie‘s dog.

The pirate on the left is a new addition to our graveyard family.  I found him at the thrift store last November.  I’m not sure who that extra skull belongs to, but we do have his twin brother up on the deck.

He’s keeping all the dead flowers from Garden Week!™ company.  Now that I’ve gotten the cobwebs up, I feel much less guilty about my lack of green thumb.  The dead plants fit the mood perfectly.

Kalen’s creativity added the perfect touch:

Nice spider placement, kiddo.  He’s got this creepy thing down.  Mostly.

Hey, Spot.  Are you glad to be out of that box?

Farewell, Garden Week!™

Yikes, that yarrow on the bottom left is looking more than a bit sad.  I’m happy to report that he’s perked up a bit since Thursday morning, however.

If he doesn’t continue to perk up, there’s always Home Depot’s exchange policy.

I’m pulling for him, though.

As for the mums, I’m surprised at myself.

They’re my favorite part.

Or maybe that’s my favorite part.

Seeing them learn new chores makes me happy.

And Garden Week!™ rolls on!

Yesterday was Flower Buying Day.  We started our hunt at Home Depot’s clearance racks before moving onto the main nursery section.  I’m nothing if not cheap budget-minded.

I think we did well.

Yarrow!  (I’ve heard of it, but never used it before.)

Trailing Petunias!

Mums!  I’ve never been much of a fan, but they’re so cheery, aren’t they?

Blanket Flowers (Gaillardia).  I’ve never heard of this one.  It’s full and pretty.

Dahlias!  These are gor. geous.  Absolutely brilliant.

Soil!

Oh, how my farming ancestors would have laughed at me, buying dirt from a store.  What a different world we live in.

Tomorrow on Garden Week!™ — the finished product.

I used to work at a certain store that had that phrase on the back of its employee t-shirts.  Customers asked all. the. time. how they could get one.  Sadly, no can do.

However, in an attempt to (a) do something fulfilling with the boys, (b) make some pretty, and (c) work on that list from the beginning of summer, I’ve declared it Garden Week!™ here at Camp Mom.  Seeing as this house, and therefore its yard, does not belong to us, a container garden it is.  I’ve broken Garden Week!™ down into daily steps to better keep the boys’ interest – and my sanity – intact.

Day 1: Procure containers.

My original thought was to go thrift store shopping to get all the containers.  That original thought became shocked resolve when I looked at the price of new pots and planters – $28-$45 apiece?  Wow.

So, yesterday, the boys and I hit the thrift store circuit.  Selection is low.  Okay, okay, I know it’s August, and most on-the-ball people started their gardens much earlier in the summer.  Or spring.  But still.  NOTHING at the first three stores.  What we did find was cracked, chipped, or plain old ug-lee.

Goodwill, though.  Goodwill came through for us.

Goodwill always comes through.

$27 later, and out we walked with a bevy (herd?  flock? murder?) of containers for our front porch.  (Plus two flower containers for inside, because why not?)

There’s a shy one hiding in the red planter, too.  He wasn’t too keen on hopping out during the photo session.

Or I forgot about him.  Either way.

Tomorrow on Garden Week!™ – Day 2: Buying flowers!

No pun in today’s title.  A double meaning, maybe.  But no pun.

Remember, back in February, when I showed you how we convert the kids’ play room to a guest room?  That’s not quite all of it.

There’s something we’ve started hanging up in there to make our guests feel a little more special.

1 ~ Use an old manila folder to create a diamond-shaped template.  Diamonds folded in half, of course, make triangles.  Trace the diamonds onto newspaper.  Make sure you’ve already read the newspaper, if you want to, because it’s going to get ruined.

2 ~ Water down acrylic paints just a bit, so the newsprint will show through.  Be sure to keep warm colors separated from cool to prevent muddiness.  Notice that I gave Nicolas all the reds, oranges, and yellows, and Kalen had the greens, blues, and purples.

3 ~ Paint!  Go hog wild.  Go outside the lines!  It’s abstract!  It’s fun!

4 ~ While the paint is drying, cut out letters that will fit on the folded triangles.  I wanted to print perfect letters in a pretty font from my computer but decided to embrace the child-like, handmade look of it all.  I hand-drew the letters on construction paper with Sharpie and cut them out.  W’s and M’s are particularly difficult; just thought you deserved fair warning.

5 ~ Choose a string/ribbon/something-like-that to hold all your triangles.  I found some red paper twine in my stash and braided it with raffia.  Cut the [dry] diamonds out, fold them over and glue them around the s/r/s-l-t.  Reinforce the top with a staple, if you’re concerned they might slide around a bit.

6 ~ Attach the letters.

7 ~ Hang.  You know all those looooong plastic twist ties that hold toys in their packaging and generally make birthdays and Christmas morning so frustrating?  Jason’s always insisted on keeping them and storing them out with the hardware in the garage.  I cannot tell you how often they’ve come in handy.  I use two to attach the bunting the curtain rod.  The hardware’s a little much for a paper banner, but I might get curtains in there someday, too.  Maybe.

It was a fun, free project that took us only an hour or so one afternoon.  Folded up, it fits nicely in the drawer with the guest room alarm clock.  Unfolded and hung, it shows our guests how happy we are to have them.

Why I haven’t yet posted today:

Quality time with boxes, a box cutter, and yellow tempera.

I made 20 arrows and was concerned it wouldn’t be enough.  (There are a lot of twists and turns here.)  I finally took Jason’s advice (See, Honey?  I do that sometimes!) and printed out a map of our neighborhood.  Turns out twenty is exactly the right number.

Did you know that the combination of black on yellow is one of the easiest color contrasts for the human eye to see?  Even better than black on white.

Tonight, my quality time will be with my black Sharpie.  Outlining, lots of outlining.

I can’t wait!*

*It should be noted that this statement was typed without an ounce of sarcasm.  I really do love this sort of thing.  I’m a dork — and a dream come true to teachers who hate decorating their classroom bulletin boards!

A week and a half ago

Walking across the kitchen floor, I thought I felt a tile shift underfoot.  Hmm, odd.  Walked back and forth a bit, couldn’t recreate the motion, figured it must be in my head.

A week ago

Sweeping the kitchen floor, noticed grout from between the floor tiles mixed in with the dust bunnies, cheerios and broken pasta.  Okay, that’s not good.  We had guests coming in a couple of hours, though, so I figured I’d call the landlord Monday.

Sunday

We woke up to this:

Okaaaaay…guess that shifting tile wasn’t my imagination after all.  (Gives new meaning to the term “floating floor,” doesn’t it?  Heh.)  All signs seemed to point to the dishwasher as culprit, so Jason turned off the water to it, and called the landlord.  “Hi, Happy Father’s Day…um, we have a problem.”

Monday

Our landlord, Roger, came out to see the damage.  He apologized profusely that we had to deal with this, but hey…I feel a lot more badly for him.  He’s the one who has to coordinate the repair work.  Our main concern was that we didn’t know how long the issue had been going on.  Would the sub-floor have damage?

Monday Night

Jason looked under the dishwasher.  YUCK.  Has anyone ever cleaned under their dishwasher?  As in, removed that little panel at the bottom and seen what’s back under there?  I haven’t.  Nasty.

Of course, some of that nastiness is mildew.  Eww…

Yesterday

Roger brought a contractor out to assess the damage to the floor.  No sub-floor damage.  (Hurrah!  This should all be fixed by the time Jason’s parents get here next week!)

Today

Me: popping Tylenol Sinus and Zyrtec to fight the mildew-and-pounding-induced headache.  Inhaler: at the ready for both Kalen and me, just in case.  Windows: open.  Dehumidifier: running full-blast.

Yucko.

Tomorrow
(We think)

New floor!

Soon
(We hope)

New dishwasher!

“Mom, why are weeds bad?”

The question gave me pause.  Nicolas was doing his homework one afternoon last week, and the question came suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere.

“Well, I guess because weeds have a tendency to push their way in on plants and flowers that people actually want in their yards.”

“Oh.  Well, I think they’re pretty.”

I’ve been pondering this for a week now.  I find myself driving past yards full of dandelions, yards that would have homeowners’ associations sending scads of scathing letters.

This notice is to remind you that keeping your lawn weed-free will result in a more beautiful neighborhood, thereby keeping all of our home values at a desirable level.  Failure to remove the weeds within fourteen days of receipt of this notice will result in removal of the weeds by the HOA at a cost to you of $250.


Every time I’ve passed a corner, a house, a field covered in dandelions recently, I’ve found myself enjoying the sight.  Drinking in the floral sunshine.  Smiling at the tiny bursts of color.

A number of dandelions have moved on to the parachute stage, ripe for hands young and old to pluck them.  Make a wish and blow!

So, are the weeds actually bad?  Or is it just that we want to pretend we have control over nature?  Choose the plants we want in our yards.  Show our mastery by kicking out the baddies!  Begone, beautifully foul dandelions!

I’m finding myself in love with the dandelions this year.

I find myself not missing someone else’s idea of what makes our yard beautiful.

Today’s the big day!  The $5 Challenge is live at Lindsay’s!  (Click the glue gun graphic to go see all the wonderful projects.)

Earlier this month, I posted a tutorial for bamboo vases, and after using them for three weeks, I have to say I’m still in love with them.  This week, I finally got started on my second project.

Here’s the second half of my haul from the dollar store:

-One small oval serving tray
-One set of four small bowls
-Two bags of decorative “accent gems” – a nod to the current decor trend of teals and aquas
-One resin birdie on branch

Items on hand that I used: Spray paint, spray poly, and a bag of tea lights.

Yesterday, while the weather was beautiful, I took the tray and bird outside to my high-tech painting booth (*cough* *cough*) and gave them each a couple of coats of paint & poly.  (I wanted a glossier finish than the paint alone would give.  I also planned to put things on the tray, so hopefully the poly will protect the paint from scratches.)

I went in wishing I had a brighter white paint for this project, but I only had Heirloom White on hand.  It always goes on creamier than I want it, but now that it’s dry, I’m pretty happy with it.

Learn from my mistake – prime the bird.  I used way too much of the precious Heirloom White trying to cover up his darker feathers and the branch.  (Also, if you come over to my house, don’t look underneath his tail.  I kind of missed a bit.  Shh.)

After they’d spent a couple of hours basking in the sunshine, I brought them inside to cure overnight.

This morning, it was time to play.  It did not go quite as planned.  My original thought was pebbles on tray, bowls amongst pebbles, tea lights in bowls.  I didn’t like it, so I started messing with it.  (That’s how the pros do it, I promise!  Mess around with it until you like it!)

Hmm.  Seems I didn’t need the bowls after all.  Okay, so it’s a $4 project!  If you have clear cup tea lights on hand, I think it would be even prettier.  I’m fresh out.

And there you have it – a $4 candle arrangement, suitable for end tables, very wide mantles, breakfast bars, and kitchen tables.*

P.S. I’m also linking this up to the Frugal Friday Linky Party over at The Shabby Nest.  Have fun looking through those projects, too!

*This isn’t the steadiest candle arrangement in the world…As with all candles, please don’t put this anywhere a child or animal could disrupt it and get burned or spread the flames.  And, of course, don’t leave it unattended!  You knew that, right?

So, Lindsay has thrown down the gauntlet and wants to know what attractive home decor items we can make with $5 of materials from the dollar store.  My trip to Dollar Tree after she posted last week netted me materials for two different projects.  (Here’s the second one!)

I was inspired to make vases the instant I saw these  colorful bamboo place mats.  I spent about ten minutes playing with the glassware at the store to make sure I could make the number of vases I wanted with only $5 worth of stuff.

I came home with this:

-Three large sugar shakers (at least that’s what they’re labeled – I think they look more like Parmesan cheese shakers)
-Two bamboo placemats

Yesterday, I gathered my tools:

-Hot glue gun (with extra glue) – plug it in before you start cutting
-Scissors
-Craft knife
-Self-healing mat (um, you might want to have yours right-side up)
-Ruler
-Rubber bands (not shown)
-Silver Sharpie (not shown – I chose silver rather than black, so any marks left on the bamboo wouldn’t be too obvious)

I began by setting the shakers’ tops aside (they might come in handy for another project someday, right?) and wrapping a mat around one of the shakers.  I then cut the mat to just fit around the shaker.

I figured out pretty quickly that you’ll want to secure the end pieces of the mat immediately with some hot glue in a couple of places, to keep it from falling apart.  Once the strings are cut, the bamboo sticks will pop off and scatter like mad.

I then applied hot glue to the mat and carefully wrapped it around the shaker, being sure to line the bottom edge of the shaker up with the bottom edge of the mat, and secured it with rubber bands.

My plan was to come up with three vases of different heights.  Here’s where I spent my time in the dollar store: making sure that I could get two shorter vases out of one place mat.

The manufacturers of the “sugar” shakers were quite helpful and made them exactly 5 inches high.  So, I measured and drew a line 5″ from the edge of the mat with my silver Sharpie.  I scored it a couple of times with the craft knife (I put a fresh blade in first!) before cutting it with my scissors.  The scoring helped keep my scissors on track, and I ended up with a pretty straight cut.  I cut and applied the two pieces of mat to their shakers and set them to dry/cool while I hit the yard for some appropriately springlike blooms.

Doesn’t forsythia scream “Spring is coming!!”?  It reminds me of my parents’ yard in Georgia.  By the time I had the stems de-budded, the vases were all ready for some water, flowers, and a photo shoot.

I have got to learn to use the manual settings on my camera…

Don’t they frame the boys nicely?  I’m thrilled with my new $5 set of vases.  It occurs to me that they might make nice tea light holders, too.  I’ll give that a try with the forsythia dies and let you all know how it works out.

So how about you?  Are you up for Lindsay’s challenge?

My boys

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