Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Up, Up and Away, Raised Bed Gardening

When I bought my house many years ago, the people who lived here had some garden beds but it was in a dirt area with no watering system and they were full of weeds and where we live is red clay dirt. They didn't use anything to break up the dirt. I planted grass between the beds but the mower didn't fit between them and I fought for years trying to grow things and hated every minute of it. I ripped out the beds and put down grass and sprinkler extending the lawn in the back. Here it is full of weeds. Even looking at the picture stresses me out remembering how horrible it was all the time.

My 4th daughter loves to garden so for her birthday last year, we put in a raised bed garden. We put down the black weed barrier and within weeks had grass growing in the garden. My sister used flattened boxes and old newspapers under her raised beds and has had no problem with grass growing through.

I bought the lumber for my raised beds from Ace Hardware and went to the pile of seconds and bought the wood for fairly cheap as it wasn't quite straight. I went to the local IFA and bought some cattle guard fencing to use for the vines and tomatoes to grow up. I put these along the back and used old piping, clothes lines and fence posts to stabilize the cattle fence.

I bought vermiculite, top soil and manure and got some composted manure from the fair grounds and mixed it all in the raised beds with my own mulch. I mulch all veggies and fruit left overs and grass clippings and just dump them in a pit I dug and sometimes throw on some dirt from the field next door making lovely soil with lots of worms. You can see how dark the soil is. I just pull any weeds right out and there are hardly any.

Last year we had about 5 large pumpkins and tons of tomatoes and squash hanging off the fencing. One year, before I put in the raised beds, I used the fencing but didn't have it stabilized and the weight of a few pumpkins pulled it down. I suggest you anchor the fencing well in order to keep it up when the melons and squash start growing heavy.

Peas, beans, melons, tomatoes and any vine will grow up rather than out and doesn't take much space. I usually buy my tomatoes however last year we had some volunteer along with some melons. This year, we had red potatoes plants come up in the mulch so I transplanted those into the shady area of the garden. The garden goes along the fence line. The only thing I haven't tried growing there is corn. I find that it takes up so much space and the frost is so late that I find it is better and cheaper to buy it from the local farmers.

You can see how long the garden is and the thing I like is that it is all accessible from the grass within arms reach. It is in the yard, it looks pretty, it gets watered with the yard and trees and we planted edible flowers so that it looks beautiful as well as tastes wonderful. We have rows of about 5 different carrots, two types of radishes, several types of lettuce, 2 types of tomatoes, many types of squashes and melons, potatoes, kale, spinach, peppers, peas, beans, onions, and a few things I planted that I couldn't remember what the seeds were from, I think cabbage or broccoli.

Happy Planting!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Curls, Girls and Curls on Girls

I spent the weekend with a friend from high school I haven't seen in 25 years. I have always had a bit of natural wave in my hair. She had lots of natural curl. Her hair looked so cute.

We were staying in a condo. After swimming, she did her hair and I was amazed. She put some gel in it and used her finger to curl it. It looked so cute.

So, I tried it with my hair. With her hair having more curl than mine, I didn't get as tight curls with her light gel. So, today, I tried several types of hair gel and styling aids to see which would work best for my hair which has just a bit of natural wave.

Here is my hair without anything on it after showering.
I used several different types of gel and aids to make ringlets in my hair. Basically, you just rub some gel into your hair, use a comb to comb it out in small amounts and then you use your finger to twist it around and around until it forms a ringlet. I did find that the ringlets held better if I used a bobby pin to hold the ringlet for a few minutes while I worked on the next few.

Here are the styling aids I used. My favorite was the Tresemme and the Loreal anti Frizz creme.
Flat Out was close behind. My suggestion would be to try several and keep what works. She did say that a good salon shampoo and conditioner were a must. She also said that someone taught her this a few years ago and that she wished she had learned it earlier as that it worked well in humid climates and she lived in Hawaii for years and wished she could have done it while living there as her hair was always frizzy there.

What I liked about it is that you can leave with your hair wet and ringlet it wherever you go, even in the car. You can see that the ringlets on the right in the top picture weren't as tight as the left. It was the products I used. I used each product for two or three ringlets. I will try this again with the one that held the best but I want to try it with different shampoo and conditioner. She said it really made a difference in her hair.

I want to try this on my kids. Happy Ringlets!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Family Activity Jar

This can be a great gift or just something you use for your family. You can print off the suggestions below and add some of your family favorites into the mix and have fun doing the activities.

Some of these I got from a jar we received. Others are things I added that are favorites in our family.

Put a penny in the bottom of a cup. Fill the cup and pack it down with white flour. Tip the cup upside down on a plate. Each person cuts a little bit off the flour tower hoping to not be the one to knock the penny off or collapse the tower. Whoever makes the penny fall has to pull the penny out of the flour with their teeth. Do this activity outside and by the end everyone will look like a ghost. Make sure you have a camera handy!

Have a progressive room cleaning party (each others rooms)

“Heart Attack” someone’s home- Tape paper hears on shishkabob bamboo sticks and put them in their yard, sprinkle them up the walk etc. Make heart cookies and leave them on the doorstep, ring the bell and run.

Draw it out – Everyone picks a name of a family member and tells no one. Then they have to draw something about the person that will help others guess who it is.

Draw a picture and then let the next person draw something in a story line, the second person folds down the first picture and passes the paper, the third person draws a picture relating to the second picture then folds down the top picture. After about 10 turns, open the paper and look how the picture story changes. This can also be done with older kids using words. One writes a sentence, then, next continues it and then folds down the top sentence. The end result is a funny story with twists and turns.

Sack game- Bend over and pick up an opened paper sack with your teeth only and cut off ½ inch of the sack each round. Continue around cutting some off until someone can stay standing and pick it up when it is cut off the most.

Write letters to soldiers or missionaries serving from your local area or parish.

Start by playing, singing or saying a variety of different TV jingles or advertising slogans. Have the kids write down what product the slogan is advertising. Then, start a scripture and have the kids try to finish writing it down. Most will know most of the jingles but very few scriptures. This can lead to a discussion of the powerful influence of music and the media and how we need to be selective about what we choose to let into our minds.

The blanket game – Divide the group into two teams. Have each team gather on a blanket. They must, as a team, turn the blanket over without touching the floor, if they touch the floor, they must straighten out the blanket and start over. The first team to accomplish this wins. Size of blanket depends on the size of group. If it’s a smaller family use a crib blanket.

Have someone teach the family how to change a tire.

Make a family collage. Put things on it that have to do with your family. When you are finished have judging (the kids don’t know they are being judged.) The categories will be fun such as using up the most space on the page, the most creative etc.

Split up into groups, each group with their own bag of props….ie. poster board, bandannas, newspaper, pillows, a silk flower, clothes pins, straws, crayons, tape, scissors… felt, etc. Each group chooses a nursery rhyme or a fairy talk and makes up a skit based on that… but with a religious twist, ie. The three blind mice who are spiritually blind and dear in 1ear… The farmers wife as the temptress… who lures mice over to her then chops their tails off, then have the spiritual part… where the mice and the farmers wife all turn to God.

Make a family quilt and donate it to a women’s shelter or a hospital etc.

Plan, plant and maintain a family garden. Pick up rocks that look like the veggies you will be planting and paint them using acrylic paint to look like the veggies and use them as markers to the veggies you plant.

Pass around a roll of toilet paper. Everyone tears off how ever much they want. For each square they tore off, they have to tell something for which they are grateful.

Eat dinner with weird utensils such as a measuring cup, spatula, strainer. Each person picks something out of a paper bag. What they get, they use to eat.

Eat spaghetti without hands off of long new paper table covering. Make sure everyone has a towel bib.

Start a love bucket—decorate a bucket and fill it with treats with a note attached calling it a love bucket. On the note, ask the receivers to pass it along by filling it and delivering it to someone else in the neighborhood.

Go plant flowers in someone’s yard when you can see they aren’t home so they come home to a nice surprise.

Have an ironing lesson. Start on sheets and towels for children.

Have an ancestor appreciation night. Have each person find an ancestor with an interesting story and have them come prepared to act out their ancestors story or experience through charades or drawing etc.

Hold a “no charge” car wash for neighbors and friends. Or plan a weekend when they block off the street and everyone helps wash each others cars.

Send out invites to a neighborhood water fight. Fill coolers with water balloons. Set up cardboard forts around the street with coolers as ammo in each. Each person can only throw one balloon from each fort each time they enter. Etc

Go online and find songs that were popular in the year your parents or grandparents graduated high school. Ask mom and dad or grandparents to teach everyone the dances that went with the songs.

Take your favorite family meal along with the recipe to someone who may need some TLC.

Have your kids gather the garbage cans from the neighbors as you use a broom and mop to wash them out and return them with an air freshener hanging from the handle.

Play crab soccer using 36-inch balloons. You can get them at the dollar store. You would have to play in a gym as the balloon would pop on the grass. Have spares in case they pop. Everybody gets on all fours with belly up. They can’t use their hands to hit the balloon, only their feet. If you want to make it fun, try several balloons.

Make seasonal pillowcases. ie. Halloween, Christmas, Valentines Day, etc and give them to a pediatric unit at a hospital for the kids to take home.

Movie Dinner Theme – Pick any movie with a dinner part in it and set it up to look just like it is on the movie. Cook what they do on the movie and decorate the table the same etc.

Organize a round robin letter to include extended family, college students, married siblings etc. Each family writes part of the letter and mails it on to the next family member to add to the letter.

Have a relay with three different teams. Each person has to run down to the end and put on an item representing a member of the family, then quickly take them off and run back. Each person will do this until one team wins. Make sure they each have similar items such as a tie and jacket for dad, dress for mom, diaper for baby etc in each group.

Put together a family recipe book. Each week, have a different person pick one recipe that you will try. Take a picture of it and your family eating it. If you like it, add it to the book. At the end of the year, you can give the book with a picture of you eating each recipe and a review and tips on making each for a gift.

Play FROLF (Frisbee golf) – Set up flags in a park and have the family see how may throws it takes to hit the flag on each hole with the Frisbee. It’s scored just like golf.

Interview family members, including grandparents about their personal history on video tape and make several copies for family members. (You can use the questions listed on this blog page under “Family history questions or Journal in a jar questions”

Bake a cake and put a new or bleached dollar or half dollar coin in the bottom of the pan before you bake it. (It needs to be large enough no one would eat it and choke on it) Whoever gets the piece with the coin gets to keep it.

I hope your family has as much fun as ours has had with this!

Friday, June 25, 2010

One Week Journey of Appreciation

Have you ever found yourself stressed and feeling tired and wondering how you ended up where you are in life? There have been a few of those times in my life as you will now know if you have read this blog for very long.

During those times and many others in my life, I find doing service has pulled me out of my selfish thoughts and focused me on others. However, that is only part of the trick. Gratitude and appreciation for those around you make for uplifting and daily highlights in life.

During my divorce, I had an evaluator who would decide who would end up with custody of the children. For that process, he asked us to get "letters of reference" from friends and loved ones and put them in a book with some other information and give it to him.

I called many close friends and a few family members and asked them if they would please write me a letter of reference on who I am and how I am as a parent, friend, mother etc.

What I received was almost worth the whole evaluation! As I went through the letters, I felt as if I were at my own funeral. The words and thoughts expressed by those in my circle of life were so life changing and profound. There were stories of how I helped their children, I'd given advice, touched others by service, others by example, others by a kind word or card etc.

I pondered on why I had never heard from these friends and family members about how I influenced their lives before that. I then realized that I had never written them or told them how they had influenced my life either. I think for some reason we save those words for others to hear rather than the person who did them.

That day, I decided to not hold back. I wrote each of those people and others how they influenced my life. Actions they have done, words they have said, the example they have been and how little acts of kindness changed my life.

I am going to do something and challenge you to perhaps journey outside of the "box" with me and try a "one week journey of appreciation" for those who you know or may not know who have impacted your life in some way.

Is there someone who smiles at you daily on your way to work? Someone who picked up something at the store? Someone who welcomed you into the neighborhood when you moved in? Someone who gave you advice when you married?

Once each day, I am going to try to make a phone call, write a note or take a treat to someone who has made an impact on my life who I may have overlooked in the past.

Perhaps the biggest "person" we overlook, is Heavenly Father. I am going to try this and offer it to you as a suggestion. Whenever I feel stressed, upset, angry, frustrated, to picture God in front of me and tell him how much I appreciate Him, Christ, and all the things that He has blessed me with including health, eyes, home, car, pet, family etc. I will try to continue giving appreciation until the hurt, stress etc, leaves.

I am hoping this journey will end in a beautiful place of peace and joy where friends KNOW how much they mean in my life and Heavenly Father will KNOW how much He, and all He gives me, mean in my life!

Perhaps our Journey will take us to a mutual place! I want you to know how much I APPRECIATE YOU! THANKS FOR READING MY BLOG!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thanks a Million...

Have you ever known someone who always has to "one up" you on the thank you front? Are you someone who always has to be "one up" others? Have you played this game in the past? "Thank You.", "NO, THANK YOU!"

I have always tried to give gratitude to others when I borrowed something or they did a kind act or if they allowed me to stay at their house.

However, I used to have to always have the last word on saying thank you or when someone would try to pay me for something, I wouldn't take the money. I would offer money and gifts when I would stay at their house.

One day, I needed to borrow a fax machine from my neighbor and she told me that I could only use it if I didn't send her a thank you note or make her cookies or give her a gift.

I thought that was very weird but I have a friend who visits a few times a year. When I did something anyone would do, she offered me money. I told her I didn't want it and while driving a few days later, I found the money in between the seats in my car. I can't tell you how many times I had done similar things. I hid money in homes when they wouldn't take it etc.

I realized that day that sometimes, we need to allow people to serve without a grand thank you or when doing a small thing like borrowing a fax machine which may be a big deal to me since I don't have one and in a small town, didn't know where to go to pay to use one, it was nothing to her. I examined myself and found that at some point, I was not wanting to be in someones debt. If I was always the last to say "thanks" or give them money then I could always ask them for help in the future and I wouldn't feel guilty and mostly, I could be "one up" on the gracious scale.

Sometimes a simple but sincere, "Thank you so much for holding the door open, I really appreciate that." can mean so much more than a letter to the editor with your name in highlights.

Tomorrows blog may seem in contradiction to what I have written today, however, sometimes the simple yet sincere words mean more than the money or a big gift. With that in mind, "Thank you so much for reading this blog and sharing it with your friends." ;-)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Journaling, In a Jar, In a Car, Wherever you are

These are some of my journals. I have 4 large black binders with printouts of the last 8 years of typed journals. I have journaled since I was 12. I stopped for a short time while married for various reasons but since my divorce I have journaled almost daily.

When I look back at my journal from age 12, I laugh at some of the things that were written. When I was reading some of the entries of 8 years ago for a blog I was writing, I cried at many of the entries having forgotten much of the stress during the time of my divorce.

Journals should contain the good and the bad so that when they are looked upon later by you or your family, the situation can be seen clearly and you can know what worked and how you got through your stress etc. I kept just a journal of blessings during the first month or so of my divorce for if I wrote down what was going on, I doubt I would have made it through.

Just focusing on the good things of each day really helped me stay positive in a difficult time. After the initial stressful months were over, I started writing it all down again but still focused on the blessings of the day along with other daily activities.

Now, I write the events and feelings along with the blessings.

For those who don't journal or haven't written their family history, I have collected many lists of questions you can answer that will eventually give a good idea of your life story. I will post those questions on my blog "Pages" on the home page so those of you who want to start a journal or write your family history can use them to start. Or, you can print them off and give them with a journal or diary to your children when they marry, or your parents or friends as gifts.

Something I thought would be a great idea is to call my mom every Sunday night and ask her to answer one of those questions and I would type the answer as she tells it to me. In a year, you would have 50 plus stories written down giving you a great family history for a parent.

With my girls when they were younger, we would use Sunday afternoons after church as "journaling time" where they would write in their journals or I would write what they told me when they were little or write funny things they would say. I have some on the computer and some in little diaries I bought for them.

I started a journal with each girl when I found out I was expecting. I journaled cute thing and put in their ultrasound pictures and a picture of me at each month of pregnancy with fingers held up for each month of pregnancy. There are many things you can do to journal and they don't need to be hard. The two pictures above are from one of my daughters journals. The upper about a Disney trip about age 6 and the foot drawing is from a few years ago. Whatever they feel like putting down is still a record of something.

We have an art work journal where we video tape the girls doing an art show of all their school work so we can have their description of the item and then we can throw it away after eliminating clutter only keeping the "special" projects. You can clip and paste things into a journal or, like in the above photo, I kept my favorite candy wrapper from New Zealand.
The list I will post came from a "Journal in a Jar" where we cut up the questions and put them in a jar so that each day you could pull one out and write about it. I did that once and it was so much work, I now just give them the list with a journal.
When I was in Peru the first time, I wrote the journal on paper and typed it when I got home. The second time. I was smarter. I sent myself an email each night from a Internet cafe etc and then just clipped and pasted it into my journal. So, "yes" you can journal wherever you are!
Hope you use our "journal in a jar" to journal in your car and wherever you are!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Mad Hatters of Service

Several years ago I bought some hat knitting circle weavers and my girls used them but the younger girls couldn't quite figure it out. They got put away for many years.

When we went to Peru, I took several sets of these and showed the natives how to use them. They were excited about how easy they worked a hat together.

This week, I was going on a bit of a drive with my girls and we would have some sitting time so I pulled a few out and grabbed some camo yarn suggesting that we could make some hats for the woman shelter and the hospital for the newborn babies. The girls were excited about it. They were now old enough to figure it out and after finishing the first hat, they were motivated to make more.

My youngest made two today. She is excited to try a few more types of yarn to see the outcome. They took about 2 1/2 hours to make with a few snack trips in that time. One skein of yarn makes 2 infant hats.

The red loom is the child size. She is working on her first child sized hat here.

I am working on a large loom/knitter and I doubt any one's head is that large but will finish it and deliver it to the homeless shelter none the less. The larger hats take more time and more yarn. Looking online, I see that they took the largest loom out of the newer kits for sale, which is a good idea after seeing the final product. It would fit Andre the Giant.

The girls were cute tonight saying, "Now we have hat making skills!" using a "Napoleon Dynamite" line.

My third daughter has several groups with which she donates service hours. She was excited to find something she can enjoy while watching a movie or listening to a talk tape or her ipod.
The "Knifty Knitter" has round and long looms for scarfs and they sell books so you can make more projects. It is made by "Provo Craft."
I am afraid I've created some Mad Hatters! They are so easy, perhaps you can become a Mad Hatter as well!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Buying Better Peanut Butter

I briefly mentioned in a past post about the addition of Rapeseed oil in peanut butter. I had a friend mention that after I told him about it, he looked it up and how horrible it is and wondered how they could get away with adding that to our food.

From that, I figured I would do a whole post on it. I LOVE peanut butter on bananas, in ice cream, etc. I however, can't eat it if it has rapeseed in it. I get really acidic in my mouth after eating it and don't feel very good. I wondered if I was developing an allergy to peanuts but then started looking at the ingredients.

When I saw that they are adding Rapeseed I knew what the problem was. Rapeseed comes from the Rape plant. It is called that because it is a plant that takes over and no insect or animal will touch it because it is toxic to the brain. Because they don't need pesticide and it is easy to grow, they tried to find a use for it.

Knowing that no sane person would eat oil of Rapeseed. They went to Canada, started growing it and made an oil out of it calling it "Canola" a cross of Canada oil. Giving a big push with advertising they could undercut the good oils in price making Canola oil so much cheaper as the plant needed no tending etc. So, they started selling huge amounts of the "wonderful" Canola oil in the US. After many years of use, they now claim it as just plain rapeseed oil as they don't have to go through Canada.

Looking at the backs of any cheap peanut butter, you will find rapeseed oil. Do a taste test and see which you like better but comparing, I like the Adams natural with nothing but peanuts. The oils separate and you have to stir in the oils before use but I am ok with that. My girls like the sugar added types so I usually get Skippy Natural for them. I have tried 3 or 4 other types recently. Some are organic, some have molasses, some have plain sugar etc. BEWARE of Adams easy to spread as I thought Adams would be natural all around but they add Rapeseed oil to the easy spread. The best bet, is to read the labels.

I suggest you don't take my word for it. Do a search on rapeseed oil and rape plant and see for yourself how toxic it is to animal and human brains. It is like the artificial sweeteners such as aspartame/sucralose/NutraSweet etc. They know it is toxic but someone is making tons of money on it so they keep allowing the sale.
We as the consumer need to be reading the labels and holding someone accountable even if it is just by not buying their product.
Want a scary read, look up bovine growth hormone and cancer in kids.
Hope you have a healthy happy future void of toxins from conspiring men here and afar......

Enjoy your Better Peanut Butter Sandwich!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sleeping on Air!

I blogged the other day about tents made with blankets and furniture. I commented on making a tent with a sheet and fan. I have been working on sorting family pictures and today, I found this picture (actually a color copy someone gave me) that I didn't know I had. It is my older sister and I in a fan tent at about age 9 and 11.

I found this after I made a tent bubble with my youngest and her friend this afternoon. So, with finding the picture and having made the tent, I figured it was meant to be that I blog the fan tent bubble.

We only used one fan growing up but I happen to have two box fans. So, we put one at each end and with that much fan power, we only had to secure the one side. We used furniture and tucked the sheet under the fan on that side and put books ontop of the fan to hold the sheet on the fan and the other side wasn't secured down except at one end with two books as you can see in the picture.

This made it much easier to get in and out and gave it a high "ceiling" and allowed for an extra cubby "room" that they thought was fun. I turned off one of the fans while the girls were in the tent and with that one side open, the tent went down to almost the ground. It didn't do well with the one side open. If we had only one fan, we would have had to use books to seal the other side of the tent to keep it "afloat."

The girls had just as much fun as my sister and I did when we were there age. My youngest had fun talking into the fan and hearing her words chop up. It only took about 3 minutes to put up and gave them quite an enjoyable afternoon.

Have fun playing in your bubble!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Popcorn in a Healthy Way

I have tried over the years to find healthy treats that will actually help my health but fill a craving at the same time.

Microwave popcorn is quick and easy but it isn't healthy. There have been many deaths linked to microwave popcorn so I don't like to use it. I was going to post a link here to link you to some articles about it but figure if you want more information on that you can do a search on "popcorn microwave death" and 223,000 articles come up.

With that said, I have a hot air popper that I use when I make certain Christmas treats. I figure hot air is probably the healthiest way to pop corn. I do have a whirly pop but that has to have heated grease to pop. Not always the healthiest but very tasty.

So, I use my hot air popper to be healthier. I melt some grade A coconut oil which has a coconut taste instead of butter. It is similar to butter that it hardens as it gets cold and depending on the temperature of your house, it will melt and harden accordingly. Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils. Most animal oils are bad. Rape seed or Canola oil is horrible for animals and humans. (You may want to check your peanut butter for rape/rapeseed/canola oil and switch brands if it has it listed)
When they gave cows coconut oil mixed in with their grain feed, they became too healthy and lean and the ranchers were upset that they didn't have enough fat on them to make more money so they stopped using it for cattle.

Our bodies need good fats. 30% of our diet should be fats. Most people don't get 30% fats and the fats that they do eat aren't healthy.
I have used two types of coconut oil. Both are shown above. I now just buy it bulk in the gallon. If you want to use coconut oil in all of your cooking or baking, you can get a lower grade coconut oil that doesn't have a coconut flavor and has a shelf life of about 30 years which is amazing compared to most other healthy oils that have about a year shelf life. I use olive oil in much of my cooking and baking but bought coconut oil for long term storage. During the last world war, the thing that was the most sought after and that had universal value was cooking oil. You can buy it online or at a health food store.

I then use "Real Salt" for flavor. It is salt that comes from a mine in Redmond, Utah. It is from the sea that once covered that area. It has natural minerals that other salts don't have. Many people are mineral deficient with today's diets so it is a nice way to get flavor and get minerals. It has a reddish color.

I pour the melted coconut oil and stir as I salt the popped corn. I used to use bowls for serving but with so many of us, we have collected a few different containers. I have two glass bowls and four small container so we can each enjoy our own container while watching the movie without having to pass or spill the popcorn.

I hope this has been informative and will give you a healthy alternative to microwave popcorn!

Happy Popping!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Forts of Fun, Blanket and Sheet Tents

When you were little did you make forts out of blankets and furniture? Each one of my children has gone through that stage and my last has just about outgrown it but I was happy to see the best fort ever made my using furniture and a magic wand dowel. She was so creative in her use and building, it inspired me to blog about it today.

When I was little, my grandmother made a circus tent out of fabric and you put it over a standard size card table and put a dowel in the top and it did look like a circus tent.

When my older kids were growing up, they had the plastic tents with the hollow plastic joints. However, nothing has competed with the tent they made today. It has a room with a bean bag, a black bear rug and a shelf.

The most fun and favorite tent for me was the fan tents made by putting a box fan in front of a sheet and putting books around the sheet and turning the fan on creating a tent bubble.

A few years ago my younger sister and I were reminiscing about those and she thought it would be fun for her kids to make one so I ordered a box fan online and sent it to her. I went down and dug my fan out and made one with my children that same night. Growing up, we slept in them for weeks in the summer when it was hot.

With those hot summer nights heading our way, I think we will pull out the fans and experiment using one at each end! The ULTIMATE fan tent!

Happy Tenting!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Family History Can Take on Scary Forms SLIDES

Last summer I took on an impossible task. I gathered 8mm, super 8mm, 16 mm, VHS, pictures, slides, newspapers, reel-to-reel, cassettes, dictagraphs, photo copies, etc.

I spent several months sorting many boxes that had been previously sorted by my siblings and I. My mother has a paper illness. She can't throw any paper away. This can be good and bad. Nice that she had things of value, but bad that we spent months sorting papers. We sorted through so many boxes and I hate to think of the things that were lost in her house fire and floods.

The result of the sorting was about 25 boxes. I called my parents, uncles, aunts cousins, sibling and as a result, we ended up with black and white movies from 1938 on. Color movies from the late 1950's on. I found video of my parents wedding that no one knew we had. We found many slides no one remembers seeing. We have color film of a woman who walked across the plains as a pioneer child.

Many things went on during those months so I thought I would start by sharing how we broke it down. I will start with SLIDES. We bought several different types of viewers and ended up not using many because they took much time pulling slides out to view etc. My favorite was Eumig Diaport daylight slid projector/viewer/sorter.

I liked this viewer because it had a tray. I just tipped the tray I had them stored in into the one that came with the machine. Or, I presorted them looking into the light and then put them into the tray if I had any question on the slide.

I went through and took out any slides with people in them, then previewed them and gave the one's with people we knew in them to another sibling to scan. The result were some wonderful pictures that have never been seen. Slides of family reunions and more.

I then wrote the estimated date on the slide along with who was in it and where it was taken and organized them by date.

I stored the slides in some plastic slide holders but found that they were expensive so I just used baseball card holder plastic pages. (Make sure they are acid free.) Once the slides were organized by date (and event or family group) my brother and sister scanned them using a flat bed scanner. There are several types of scanners that will do this. Some will do only one slide at a time, we found that we liked the one's that did multiple slides at a time and then allowed you to edit each and save them individually.

They scans were saved on the computer by family in folders and then we made a disc of all the slides and pictures we scanned and gave them to the family at our reunion.

We also met extended family at the cemetery this Memorial Day and offered them what treasures we had collected.

I stored all the family slides in a binder with a label and the binders are stored in bins. If I needed one, I could get to the exact slide within minutes. Slides were just one of the things we did. I was impressed with the fact that the slides were better than the pictures many times and the color more crisp. Once they are scanned, it is easy to take them in on an SD card to get pictures made or you can do it online and they will mail the pictures to you.
My favorite reason for having done this is that everyone in the family has access to the pictures rather than just one person. If the house did burn, they are online and it doesn't matter. If one person has everything stored and they lose the house, the history is gone forever. My family had two house fires within a year. We also had several floods. With these being done now, I don't have to worry about things being lost.

The top pictures is my grandmother diving. There is one of a family reunion. One of my dad riding a camel and one of the home where my father grew up.

Happy Sliding......