School Projects

Fun Projects

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Project Gone Wrong

For the past six years, my sister and I and our families have taken a weekend camping trip during the summer. This year our destination was Big Foot Beach State Park, in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Several weeks before our trip, I thought up a project that seemed like a good way to spend an hour of our time together, especially if there was bad weather. My idea was to decorate coordinating t-shirts for the kids, using sponge stamps and bleach. It seemed easy enough, so I went and bought the shirts, and started looking for alphabet sponges. The sponges turned out to be the first problem - because I guess they don't exist. I should have realized right then and there that this project was not going to turn out as planned. I did find a substitute for the sponges, and thought I had things all figured out.

Several days before the trip, I decided I better test out my method, to make sure the kids could do it. I got out my bleach and my sponges and tried it out on the inside of one of the t-shirt collars. Nothing happened. I tried again. Nothing. I couldn't get any bleaching action. I've never had problems bleaching things before, so I was stumped. Maybe it was the sponges? So, then I had a really brilliant idea: why not use those stain removing bleach pens instead of liquid bleach? The kids could probably manage that a little better anyway, right? Well, considering my track record so far, I decided to test that out too, before running out and buying a few more of the pens. Guess what? Those didn't bleach the t-shirts either! These were plain old 100% cotton t-shirts, but they were not about to give up their color to bleach in any form!

Well, by this time I was rather annoyed that my project was going so badly, so I started digging around in my baskets looking for some way to salvage this thing, and I found some fabric paint. I figured things couldn't really get any worse, even if you factored in my lack of self-confidence when it comes to fabric painting. So, I printed up some templates and got to work:

For the template, I just poked through the paper with a pen, so I'd know the general shape and placement of the letters. It wasn't very sophisticated, but it worked, and I didn't have any better supplies on hand. For the tents I just free-handed, hoping they would be recognizable objects.

I got the t-shirts done with JUST enough time to dry and set properly before we left on our trip, but then the worst problem of all occurred. The "Third Worst Storm of the Century" hit the southern part of Wisconsin, very close to where we were going to camp. With more bad weather coming, we began to consider cancelling for the first time in six years, which would have been very terrible. We did some last minute rearranging, and managed to save the tradition and have a wonderful time, weather or no weather.

So, it turns out that all is well that ends well, both for projects and camping trips.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Free Flowers

Last week, my husband came home from work with the news that one of his friends had "flowers and stuff that needed dividing. We can go out Monday night and see their house, and take whatever we want." I was a little skeptical, but since our yard has so many spots that need something, I was willing to fill them with almost anything - for now. I can always come back later and fix things......right? So, on Monday night, we braved the mosquitoes and headed out. We returned home with a trunk full of plants and bodies full of itchy bites. But it was worth it.

Now that the plants were home, the two day chore - I mean project - of planting them began. First, of course, I had to weed my flower beds to see where they would fit. Some went into the front flower beds right away, but I had to put some of them into a "holding pen" because we are going to be doing some major foundation work later this summer.

In the left picture is what I hope is Sweet William (we'll see if we get some flowers). The picture on the right is my "holding garden." The Yellow Mums will probably stay there, but if the Purple Cone flowers survive, I want to transplant them to the front of the house next year.

I hope the Hostas are happy here along this fence. Nothing else grows here, or along the back of our garage, so it is always muddy and full of scraggly weeds.

I still have some Purple Irises left, but I read online that they shouldn't be planted when it is really hot, and it is today, so they'll have to be a project for another day.

While I was at it, I transplanted some Daffodil bulbs from the front box to the backyard, where I hope they will be happier. Oh, and I almost forgot about the Daisies, which went in the back too. So, it really was quite a haul, and I hope my green thumb was up to the challenge.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Real Purpose of Three Day Weekends

When the Fourth of July falls on a weekday, most gainfully employed Americans are given the day off to celebrate Independence Day with parades and picnics and fireworks. Once in a while, however, this important summer holiday falls on a Sunday, which means no special day off. You have to celebrate on your own time. Or does it? It does not, because many people get the following Monday off, producing that most wonderful event: the Three Day Weekend. This is the ultimate celebration for those who do projects because we can party on Saturday AND Sunday, and still have Monday free to get things done! Our whole family took full advantage.

The kids painted birthday cards for their cousin. I found that giving Brynn plain old water and a brush was just as satisfying for her as real paint. If you like their smocks, all you need is an old pillow case. Use a t-shirt as a guide to mark how big to cut the neck and arm holes on the bottom and sides of the pillow case. I left my edges raw, but you could turn the edges under and finish the hems if you like. I also turned up the top of the pillow case and sewed several vertical seams to create pockets on the front of the smock, but I would not do that again, for two reasons. First, the pockets have never been used. Second, more coverage when it comes to paint is always better. It never ceases to amaze me where I find splotches of paint after a project!

Aaron spent more time on a ladder, working on his soffit project. He is almost done, which is really good news. He also added a much needed yard light to the back of our garage, so maybe we can chase away the pesky skunk that seems to enjoy wandering through our yard.

To round out the family projects, I FINALLY finished doing the curtains in Brynn's room. I finished sewing the curtains months ago, and got brave enough to hang the rods myself weeks ago, but the curtains themselves still sat, neatly folded, on the dresser. On a holiday visit to the project store (also known as Menards), I finally picked up enough rings to hang the curtains, so on Monday I was free to clip the rings onto the fabric (math not being my strong point made this take longer then it should have), take the rods back apart, and thread the rings onto the poles. Thankfully, I am very happy with the outcome.