Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Decorating Ideas Part 1 - Light Bright

 Princess number five told me this year that she had never carved a pumpkin by herself and that she wanted to do it. 

I thought we would go all out and that is why we got five large pumpkins when we went to the pumpkin patch a few weeks ago. (see that post here)

I pulled out our Halloween stuff and showed her all the fun things we had that she could do. 

When she saw the "light bright" kit, she decided that she wanted to do that first. 

In the kit, there are several patterns and about 30 little light bright pegs and a little hammer to hammer them into the pumpkin.  

She didn't want to use any of the patterns they had but wanted to do her own making some balloons.  

However, the pumpkin was so thick and so large that when she pushed the long pegs in, they hardly reached through the thick pumpkin and also, she stuck them into the top portion of the pumpkin so the candle light didn't quite reach the top portion of the design well.

While Princess five took a shower, I pulled out the little pegs and scraped the inside of the pumpkin thinner so that more of the pegs would be showing on the inside of the pumpkin and more light from the candle would show through.  

You can see how much more they show through after I did that. 

I think you could actually use regular light bright pegs and hammer them in using a rubber hammer. You would have to use a shorter pumpkin and also scrape away much of the inside of the pumpkin when cleaning it out but I think that way you would have more color options, more design options and the candle light would light up the design more, making it brighter.

Princess two said it wasn't fair that I never was in any pictures. I told her that I was happy to not be in any photos but she took one and told me that I had better not delete it as they would want some photos of me later since I was usually behind the camera. I guess she has figured me out! 

So, for her, I posted this photo of me finishing putting the pegs back into the pumpkin. I think next year, I will try the actual light bright pegs and see how it works. For now, Princess five was VERY happy as she got to make three pumpkins. I'll share the others tomorrow! 

You can see in these photos how the darker colors and the ones towards the top don't show up as well but if you start lower and thin the pumpkin out before hammering them in, I know it will work better. Here are the pictures showing how you can see the green and top balloon better after I scraped the pumpkin some. It took a little less time than carving but gives you a few more options.   

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dis-Membered Ghost - Fun Activity for Kids

This fun activity has been used in our family for at least ten years if not more for every Halloween party we have ever done for small children. 

I was serving in the Cub Scouts many years ago and got two cases of manual that I am sure had never been gone through since they were first acquired. 

I decided to flip through them and see if I could pull out any fun activities and consolidate them into one book rather than two cases to pass on to the next person who took the job after me in that pack. 

I found this activity from the book dated October 1987 under "Fire Dectives" (yes, that is how it was spelled in the book) and under "Citizen"  in the title. 

I read the activity and thought it sounded fun so when I made my own files, while on bed rest with one of my pregnancies, I decided to include it in my "Halloween Party" idea section. (No, I am not kidding that I have a filing cabinet with ideas in it which has been used over and over through the years.) 
Here is the activity:

Have the group sit in a circle or in rows and give them each a paper towel or napkin to wipe their hands on. You can see in these pictures of princess four and five's class that they all have a paper towel. 

You can dim the lights in the room, and have a spooky sounds CD playing in the room while you read it. Or, you can have a dad with a deep voice read it or record it earlier and play it when ready. 

Tell the children that they can't tell anyone what they think it is the bag and that at the end, you will ask them all what is in each bag and they can guess what it is.

Here is the poem:

This is my ear
Once attached to my head.
Be careful! It can still hear
Everything that is said!
(dried apple or apricots)

These are my eyes
Once clear and sharp.
Don't lose the,
Or you'll be playing a harp!
(peeled cherry tomatoes or grapes)

These are my teeth
Once bright and strong.
Don't drop them, Or you won't have yours long!
(dried loose corn, pine nuts and shells on sunflower seeds)

This is my tongue
Once in my mouth tight.
Don't Pinch it, 
Or I'll come and haunt you tonight!
(piece of kitchen green scrubber soaked in liquid dish soap)
This is my hair,
Once flowing and free. 
Don't pull it, 
Or I'll scare you from your tree!
(corn silk, jute rope pulled into pieces and/or raffia)

This is my hand
Once strong and bold.
Feel it now,
It's icyyyy cold!
(rubber glove with frozen water in it)
This is my brain
Once clear and bright.
Don't squeeze it, 
Or you won't sleep tonight!
(Wet sponge)

These are my guts,
Don't let them fool you.
I still have enough left
To ghost and ghoul you!
(Wet cooked spaghetti)

I put everything in little plastic baggies that are sealed and don't put them into the paper bags until we are ready to have them "feel" the item, that way, the paper bags don't get soggy. Make sure to tell the kids NOT to squeeze the item. I had some grapes that lasted one child before they were mush. I keep the entire game in a gallon zipper bag with the poem and new sponges etc, so if I need it quickly, it is ready. I throw away the wet items and just keep the dry items in the bag. 

The children love it and usually guess what all the items are at the end of the game. Princess number five just walked in and I had the bag with the game next to me and she smiled and commented on how fun she thought the game was and how cool she was because she knew what the items in the bag were ahead of time. Funny the things they remember. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Any Wisdom in Those Teeth?

We had a bit of an unexpected trip this week. We found that our insurance is going to be canceled in a few days so we decided it would be a good time to get some wisdom teeth out. 

Actually, I had tried for awhile to get it scheduled but in a small town, often we don't have anyone come that can do it and when I tried to schedule her way back when, the Dr. had just come for his last visit and they didn't have anyone coming to town that removes impacted wisdom teeth. 
Fast foward a few months. My friends son got his teeth out in a town about 1 hour away. I asked my friend for the name of the guy that does it. 

I had it for about a week but found an add in the local flyer that said if you were willing to go an extra hour on the drive, they would give you a free gas card and take $100 off the drive and all they do is Wisdom teeth removal. 
I hadn't called yet as our schedule has been so crazy with Princess number 2 coming home and my yard issues.

With news of our insurance issues, I was going to call the man on the add when my sisters mentioned that I could probably find a place closer to home and still get a good deal. She texted and emailed me the name of a place in a town an hour away.
I called them and they said they were going to be in that town the next day and could fit us in at the end of the schedule. 

I got the car serviced and rotated the tires and off we went after school on Friday. They were over an hour behind by the time we get in. Princess four was a bit scared but I thought she did very well. 
It took me an hour to get the prescriptions at Walmart on the way home and by the time I got them and got them in her and had her eat something before taking them, she was sobbing in pain. I felt so sad for her.

It took quite some time for the pain pills to get working but by the time we got close to home, they kicked in and she was OUT in the car. I'll share more tomorrow because I am falling asleep at the computer again and you know how that goes. zzzzzzzzzzzzz lol

This last photo is her after 48 hours and you can hardly tell the cheeks are swollen. Wahoo for her!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Yard Guard - Winterizing the Yard

I figured since I spent the week posting about my yard, I should finish it off with one last post. Before owning our house, I had never even heard of insulated spigot covers or draining the sprinkling system. 

We did have sprinklers when I was growing up but I didn't know they needed to be drained.

I had a friend that told me that they never drained their sprinklers in the winter. So, one year I didn't drain them and we almost flooded the basement when an ice shard broke a main sprinkler line. 

Also, I didn't put the insulated spigot cover on the spigot in winter and at least three times I had a pipe bib freeze causing flooding when we went to use the hose in the spring. So, with that, I ALWAYS winterize my yard now. 

First step with the spigots is to make sure the hose is off of the spigot, drained and coiled. Then make sure the spigot isn't leaking. If it is, see this post as to how to replace the washer on the spigot. 

Once the spigot isn't leaking, get some kind of insulated spigot cover. The type I show are the most common and only cost a few dollars at any hardware store. 

I always check the area for spiders. This black widow was under the little spigot run off I leave under the spigot in case of drips etc. I killed it. For some reason, they like to winter over in the insulated covers so I try to spray bug spray in them as well.

The insulators work with a little rubber strap that goes through the center of the cup. There is a little circle that you hook onto the bottom of the spigot like a rubber band. Once it is around the bottom, you have to hold tension on it like you see in the photo to the right or the strap will fall off and you won't have a good seal.  

Then, you push the little button on the side of the green square on the front (it can be any color but on this one it is green.) This releases the tension on the rubber strap and you then pull the strap back out like a draw string and that pulls the insulated cup onto the spigot. There is a foam seal at the edge that you can see in the above photo well. It needs to be squished against the siding on the house to keep any cold air from getting in and freezing any left over water in the line. Then, you are done with the spigot. 
To turn off and drain the sprinklers, you turn off the water at the main for the yard, not the house. There is usually a little round plastic cover (usually white) over the hole. Mine got mowed this year for the uncountable time. 

It is good to have the cover as it keeps garbage from getting down there. When we bought the house, the little boy that lived there put rocks down the hole and it made it very difficult to turn on and off the sprinkler main. I used a shop vac and taped two hoses together to get the rocks out of the hole. This year, I had already replaced the cover once and it got mowed up again so leaves got down in there. 

There is a little brass turn off down there and this little metal turn on key fits over that and you turn it 1/4 turn and the water is now off. There is only one way you can turn the switch, it goes 1/4 each way for on and off. You will see water starting to fill the hole as the main drains and you can hear it as well. 
Then, you get into the sprinkler boxes and open all the valves on every sprinkler line. You can see the little knobs on the tops of the valves. One direction is open, the other is closed. They are usually closed. I open the line and let them drain for a few hours. I then close the valves so they don't get stuck open over the winter. 

The last thing I do is to allow the sprinklers to run one cycle for one last day pushing anything else in the line out. Then, I turn off the sprinklers at the timer, to the off position. 

Some homes have a drain switch on the sprinklers that you can turn 1/4 turn that will drain the entire yard. Not all systems have that but mine broke a few years ago but as long as I do what I mentioned in this post, I have been fine. 

If you have a yard, it is worth doing a yard, winter guard. I hope you have a dry winter.      

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pipe Bib Needed a Bigger Bib

It has been getting cold the past few nights. I have had a problem in the past where the water in an outside spigot froze and broke the pipe bib and I had flooding. 

I have never had that problem on the front of the house but I have in the back where the pipe isn't angled down enough for the water to  drain. I thought I had better make sure the hoses were detached and put the insulation cup on to make sure they didn't freeze. The back yard spigot went ok, (I will post on that later) and then when I went to the front, I found water trickling out of the spigot. 

There was quite the stream. I have no idea how long it had been going but you can see from the photos that the ground to the right and down in the window well are all wet as well as the cement below the spigot. 

In order to change out a washer or to change out the pipe bib, you need to shut the water off to the entire house. My main in is my basement.  I shut it off and then grabbed the tools needed. Also, I turn on several faucets full open and leave them open so that if there is water in the line, it drains out. 
I used a pipe wrench and and adjustable wrench (or two pipe wrenches if you have them) to remove the nozel from the bib. Use one to hold the spigot in place and one to unwind the handle. 

If you can take the handle off, there is a screw in the center of the handle you can remove as in the upper picture. Some come of and some don't. Once you have taken the nozzle off, you unscrew the handle which releases the thinner inner pipe and then you can pull it out. 
As you see here, the washer that was supposed to be on the end of the rod is missing. I am not sure where it went but obviously some time in the past month or so, it took a vacation. 

I have a container of washers I bought a few years ago with a variety of sizes. It comes with extra screws but none of the screws were long enough to fit this bib. I had to dig through my screw bin and find something as none of the stores were open at that hour. I had already been twice for the other sprinkler fix. 
Once you screw in the washer, you slide the pipe back into the bib and screw it in like you would turning on and off the water. 

Then, once that is done, you use teflon plumbers tape and put some around the screw part. Make sure you wrap it so when you screw on the pipe, it is in the right direction. I have wrapped it wrong before and it just comes off and bunches up when it is wrapped around to the left rather than clockwise from the top. 
Then use your pipe wrench and adjustable wrench to screw the handle back onto the bib. 

Once they are both screwed on snugly, before turning the main water on again, screw the handle in and out and make sure it moves smoothly in and out. Sometimes, I have screwed the washer in too tightly and it keeps the inner pipe from moving well and you can't turn on the water so test that out before turning the water main on.
Make sure the handle is in the off position and that the faucets in the house that you opened up are turned off before turning the main on again. 

Once the main is turned on, go out and make sure that the water turns off completely and that you can use the water. Make sure that once it is off, it isn't dripping. 

Then, if it is winter, make sure you put on a styrofoam protective cover. I have had my pipe break several times and I have friends that have had it happened several times as well. Insulation in the wall and outside have kept it from happening to me again. It is something I make sure I do when the weather is cold as a precaution.    

When I was at the hardware store, a woman came in and was waiting while I talked to the worker about the parts I needed to fix the sprinkler. She looked at me and asked, "Why would you want to do anything with plumbing?" I laughed and told her "I didn't, but, even when I was married, I was the one who took care of it." I put in a disposal, dishwasher, pipe bibs on our house and a rental, new drains, faucets, sprinklers, shower heads, solenoids etc. That was all while I was married. Since then, I did the main line to the house, put in reducers, pipe bibs several times and lots and lots of sprinklers. Like I said, water and I just don't mix well! :-)