Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rainbow Loom Fishtail Bracelet

My daughter was dying to get a Rainbow Loom. If you are someone who hasn't heard of the Rainbow Loom, congratulations.  Between the kids at the school and my daughter at home, I'm sick of hearing about it.

She had a bit of birthday money squirreled away and agreed to add to her chore list to earn the rest of the money so we went off to Michaels, coupon in hand, to buy the Rainbow Loom.  Imagine her disappointment when she found out she couldn't use the coupon.  We ended up paying $16.99 for the loom and I bought a few extra packs of rubber bands so that she could keep on making the bracelets.

She loves it!  She's made rings and bracelets and I'm now the proud owner of a Sammy-Designed rubberband bracelet that I proudly wore to Target.  It's actually something fun that she could do herself and the results are fast. . . perfect for the girl that gets bored easily.

There are multiple techniques.  I'm not the creator of this technique but it's easier than the instructions that comes with the the loom.  I think even young kids could use this technique. . . the instructions included with the loom are a little bit tricky for those that aren't quite as dexterous as needed but this technique is pretty easy.

Here are instructions for the Fishtail Bracelet.

You are going to use two pegs on the loom.  I picked the ones at the end.  Put one rubber band across two pegs but twist the middle.  THIS IS THE ONLY ONE YOU WILL TWIST.

Stack two more rubber bands over the top.  DO NOT TWIST THESE.

Use the hook and pull the purple off the peg and over the two other rubber bands, resting in the middle.  Do the same to the other side.

Add another rubber band.  You will always have three looped over the pegs.

Pull the bottom rubber band over the top of the other two, just like the first one.

Add another rubber band (remember?  You need to have three on the pegs!)  Pull the bottom one over the other two again.

Keep going until you get the string as long as you want.  You will have to keep pushing the rubber bands down as they have a tendency to push up.
When you get to the length you want, pinch the last looped rubberband.  It's the white one for me.

Pull the rubber bands off the loom.  HANG ON TO THE LAST LOOPED ONE!

You will slide the last two off.  Mine was the purple and black. 
Add a C clip to the two loops of the one you are pinching.

Attach the C clip to the other side.

You're done!  Wear it with pride!

Over the next week or so, I will show you a few other techniques.  I like this one because it is easy for her to stop and come back to.  It's also one that is harder to mess up.  The instructions that come with the loom are great but that bracelet is harder to make.  If you make a mistake in the middle there is no way to go back and fix it without a lot of trouble.

Have fun!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Prepping for Guests

There are a lot of posts out there about how to make your guests feel comfortable.

Here's a confession.  This one is kind of bad. . . .

I don't worry too much about making them comfortable.  I'll put forth an effort, but not a huge one.  I worry more about being inconvenienced.  I have a routine and I like it.  I also don't much care for change, which is why my living room furniture is still arranged the same way it was when we moved into the house eight years ago.

Here's what I do for guests so that they're comfortable and I'm not inconvenienced.

First, we are lucky enough to have a spare bedroom with its own bath.  Someday, when the kids are older and I decide they shouldn't share a bathroom, I will probably move one of them in there.  For the time being, neither one can keep a bathroom neat and tidy, and I don't care to have one more mess in the house, so they are sharing.  This helps so that I don't have guests wandering the hall at night looking for a place to pee.  I'm a light sleeper and this would seriously freak me out.

In an effort to keep the guests from wandering at night, we have a television in the room.  They can shut their door, turn on their TV and be entertained. . . and I don't have to participate!  There's no awkward "whatever you want to watch" moments and I can go to sleep when I want to, instead of staying up and keeping them company in the living room while they watch David Letterman.

I also put out clean towels and have bottled water in a basket.   Even though I keep a stack of clean towels under the sink, I put out clean towels because we've had guests who refuse to go looking for things, even if I make a point to tell them where things are.  It's actually quite polite but I have to admit I'm a snooper.  I will look under your sink if I need a towel!

If I don't have bottled water handy, I will put a stack of dixie cups by the sink.  Guests get thirsty and having water in their room will keep them from wandering at night and freaking me out.

My sister can not see without her glasses.  After her first visit with us, she told me that I need to have a place next to the bed for guests to put things like glasses.  She used a chair while visiting us and, shortly after, I found this gem at a garage sale.  I've been meaning to refinish it (that's solid wood!!!) but I haven't gotten around to it.

I also stuck a lamp there because I know that I hate getting out of bed to turn out a light.  I also added a clock radio.  That probably isn't necessary but I had it.  Am I a great hostess or what?

One of the "necessities" is a power strip.  Everyone has a cell phone that needs charging.  Usually they have a laptop or tablet with them.  I don't have that many exposed outlets in the room and I used to have guests pulling out the furniture to get to an empty outlet.  A power strip fixes this.

I have another confession.  I get grossed out pretty easy.  I don't share my towels.  I wash my sheets and my pillows once a week.  I won't re-wear clothing without washing it.  I won't share my earrings, even with my daughter.  I also don't like sharing my bar soap.

I don't keep a big bar of soap in the guest shower because I don't like the idea of a communal bar of soap.  I keep these little samples on the sink for guest to help themselves to.  After they are gone, I toss the sliver that is left behind.  I will admit that I take the mini bar of soaps from my hotel room.  I know I'm not the only one. . . I've seen stacks of them at garage sales before.  If you don't travel or don't take the soaps when you do, you can get travel sizes at WalMart or buy in bulk on Amazon.
I also try to leave room in the closet.  The spare bedroom closet stores our off season clothes and, during the summer, has stacks and stacks of the blankets that are on our beds in the wintertime.  I always make sure to clear a space, just in case.

Sometimes, I will try to clean the closet but, generally, I don't bother.  Most of my guests know I'm a closet pig.

I also keep a spare blanket and pillows handy.  We keep our house cold in the winter and in the summer, the fans are all on.  I actually bring an extra blanket and pillow to homes I stay in because, often, I need an extra pillow and I'm cold.  Since it's summer, the spare blankets are stacked in my closet.  In the winter, I'd leave one out in plain sight.

Try to provide your guests with a place to hang wet towels.  If you don't have an extra bar in your bathroom, put up some hooks in the room.  Finding a place to put wet towels is hard; you don't want people draping them over anything that dampness could ruin or warp.  We've hung up cheap, 99 cent hooks in the wall behind the door.

My last suggestion for you is to make sure to put a plunger by the toilet that your guests will use the most.  My husband can tell you from experience that it is very embarrassing to have to quickly pull the back off the toilet, hold up the little dipper thingie and yell for someone to bring a plunger, especially if you don't know your hosts very well.  (Yes, it was pretty funny.)   If you have a plunger by the pot, you won't have to ever decide which bath towels to sacrifice to cleaning up the mess on the floor from an overflowing toilet.  There's just some things bleach won't take care of.  Ever.
That's about it!  Like I said, I don't worry too much about making guests comfortable. . . they may want to stay longer!  I do love a good visit but I also love the moment after everyone leaves and you can drop the smile, quit planning the next meal, and listen to the quiet. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cheap, Meaningful Art

We are lucky enough to have a guest bedroom with a bathroom.  I was cleaning the bathroom in anticipation of a visitor when I decided to do something about this:

It's a tall, skinny blank wall in the bathroom.

I had a clock hanging there but the clock was noisy and ran on batteries.  It would constantly die and I wouldn't know it.  It was a waste of batteries and my guests would usually take it down and pull the battery, anyway. 

I've always kept my eye out for a nice piece of art to hang when I am at garage sales but I have not found something I'm willing to pay for.

I found a really neat painting my son did last year in fifth grade.  I also found a frame that I had picked up long time ago and tossed into a drawer.

I had to trim the painting before I could frame it but it is poster paints on a piece of construction paper so I just cut it with scissors.

I thought about taking the glass out since it's a bathroom and I don't want condensation to get trapped between the painting and the glass.  However, it's a guest bath and isn't used often; I decided it would be fine.

My wall looks great!

If I do it again:

I would decide where I wanted the picture to hang by holding it up.  There were three holes made before a final decision was made.  Whoops!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Ant Situation

Spring and fall brings ants to the homes of those of us in Kansas.

I have been ant free for over five years.  My neighbors all have ants in their kitchen but I have not had an infestation in a long time.  I will occasionally see one ant. . . I declare war and their surrender is immediate.

There are many natural products that will help keep ants out of your home.  I used to use Raid and I would spray and spray until the ants were gone.  I would put ant traps around my kitchen and in the corners.  I would sprinkle the ant barrier around the house.  Then I got a puppy and had a toddler that put EVERYTHING into her mouth.  We stopped all of that immediately.

I will say that I don't do much about the ants outside.  They're outside and they can stay outside.  If you want to find out how to get them out of your yard, this isn't the post for you.  If you want to find out how to keep them out of your house, keep reading.

First, clean up all your spills immediately.  It's not just sugar the ants are after, it's grease, too.  Dog food is greasy.  Ants will be around your dog food bowls so pick them up after Fido is done eating.  If you leave food out always, invest in a raised bowl and periodically pick up the chunks he drops if your dog is a messy eater.

Second, start using vinegar.  Go buy a HUGE bottle of white vinegar.  Get the cheap brand; you aren't trying to impress anyone.  It will cost around three dollars.  Wipe down all your counters and your floors with the vinegar (dilute with water, I go 50/50).  Wipe underneath your sink with it.  Don't like the smell?  Turn it into citrus vinegar.  Use orange peels; ants hate orange oil.  You can also add peppermint or spearmint oil to the vinegar.  They hate that, too. 

Put some vinegar and water in a spray bottle.  I go 50/50.  Add your oils if you want.  Spray around your door frames and window sills.  Take a towel with you; these areas get dusty so you can wipe it off after you spray.  You're cleaning and fighting ants all at once!

You can take your spray bottle outside, if you want.  Spray around your doors and around your window wells. 

Do you have ants on the carpet?  Borax is your friend!  Lightly sprinkle some Borax on the carpets.  Keep your kids and pets off from it - be smart!  I used to sprinkle it at the start of nap time and vacuum it up right after she woke up.  You want to let it sit for at least ten minutes. 

I was told that the vinegar destroys the ants scent trail.  Keep using the vinegar until all the ants have found a new kitchen to stalk!  It's worked for us for five years!

Monday, September 9, 2013

No Rinse Floor Cleaner

I ran out of my citrus vinegar; oranges are crazy expensive right now so we're eating what's in season.  Because of this, I have no orange peels to make the citrusey vinegar I use to clean my floors.

I wanted something like the citrus vinegar.  It needed to be a no rinse solution that I could use between my weekly (or bi-weekly, depending on how lazy I am) scrubbing of my floor. 

I found a recipe for Swiffer Wet Jet spray and tweeked it to fit my needs.

1 gallon hot water
1 c white vinegar
1/4 c liquid castille soap (I used peppermint because that's what I have)

Mix together.  It will be a white, milky color.

I swabbed it on to the floor and wiped it up.  The floors were very, very clean and I didn't have to rinse it!

This worked much better than other no-rinse solutions I have bought at the store.  We are very humid in Kansas and the floors tend to get sticky if there is the slightest residue left on the floor.  I am also happy about the vinegar in the solution because of the ant situation.  See my post in three days about THAT!

If I do it again:

I may try adding a few drops of peppermint oil.  I liked how the castille soap's scent helped to cover up the smell of the vinegar. . . but it wasn't quite enough.