Sunday, February 24, 2013

Spring (doll) House Cleaning

The weather here is trying to work itself into a blizzard, so we are stuck inside looking for things to do...

While I was cleaning in the bedroom I noticed the the house really needed dusting... not the real house, the doll house. It was looking seriously dusty (living on a dirt road does that!) so I decided it was time to do some spring dollhouse cleaning. As I cleaned each piece I was reminded how wonderful they are...

I'm guessing the dollhouse and furnishings are probably about 70 years old. They belonged to an older neighbor of ours, from the old neighborhood, back when she was a little girl.  I'm guessing they date from the 30's or maybe 40's. When K (dd#3) was about 7-8 years old she saw it and fell in love with it, and the neighbor kindly gave her some work to do for her so she could earn it. It's still K's... but lives with me.

The furniture is plastic, and has some amazing details... a record player

... sewing machine that flips open...

... just like a real one....

... and I love the toilet (both the lid and toilet seat open)..

... and the washer! (No dryer, this tiny family must have a clothes line out back somewhere.)

I only have a few old doll house people...this baby is my favorite.

Here's the entire house:

...the kitchen and dining room (check out the tiny plates on the shelves!)...

...nursery and living room...

... the bathroom and master bedroom...

It's all cleaned and beautiful again! Too bad cleaning my real house isn't as quick and easy...

Granny, any idea how old this might be?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Thrifting Thursday(ish)

(Yes, I know it's Friday... yesterday was too busy to post.)

M earned a trip to Goodwill this week, and while we were there I was drawn to a little beat-up old birdhouse. It didn't look like much... the metal flower was rusting and the wood was a mess... but for some reason it looked like spring to me. Maybe because I've been watching the magpies starting their nest in the big old pine out back I was thinking of nesting birds...  For whatever reason, the beat-up little birdhouse looked like it might be a fun fix-up project.

Here's how it looked at first...


The flower itself is sheet metal, attached to the wooden nesting box. My plan was to quickly spray paint the leaves sunflower yellow, repaint the box and center of the flower, and call it good.

Unfortunately (or, fortunately, as it turned out), I had a spray paint crisis... Our sunflower yellow spray paint was TOO old, or had frozen at some point, or something... because it came out of the can in horrible plops, sputters, globs and drips. It's amazing how quickly a simple, easy project can become a mess... literally. (I still have sunshine yellow spray paint all over my hands!)

So I moved to plan B and got out my favorite gel stripper. It was either strip the paint I'd just splattered all over the metal flower, or toss the thing into the trash. I wasn't ready to give up yet so I started stripping the petals... and was surprised to find different colors underneath. (Hmmm...I wasn't the first person to paint it.) As I scraped the paint I decided I really liked how it looked with the different layers of paint showing randomly through on each leaf... so I left the leaves imperfectly stripped... leaving a little of the original paint, and a little of the paints that came after on each leaf.  I cleaned off the softened paint and left over stripper, took a wire brush to the leaves just a little, and then it was a quick job to repaint the box and center of the flower...

Here it is... a little bit of summer on a cold, snowy day.


I hope it gets occupied this year!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

non-stop excitement!

It's been an exciting week around here... relatively speaking... keeping in mind that big excitement around here can be as simple as the UPS guy driving down the driveway!

M played in his last basketball tournament for the year. His team didn't win, but he didn't care... he just loves playing.

R is working on a new tune for her ukulele lesson, "Music of the Night" Yes, it's from Phantom of the Opera... her uke teacher actually took the time to pick it out for her because the Phantom has some of her most favorite music ever.

I farm-sat for my neighbor's alpacas for a few days.... I've been her farm sitter for years, but each year she has more alpacas than the year before, and this year there were LOTS of alpacas...

They were everywhere...

They have no respect for personal space.

I got spit on twice.

I paid myself with alpaca poo (so good for my gardens).

The kids and I sang the "Beverly Hillbillies" theme song as we drove our tractor (oops, tractor wouldn't start, had to take K's car...) up the road, filled the muck bucket and little trailer with alpaca poo, then drove back down the road and hauled it around to the pumpkin patch to dump.

It just doesn't get much more exciting than driving down a washboard road, singing old TV theme songs, watching a stinky trailer bouncing around behind the car in the rearview mirror (while silently praying no one you know will drive by).

(Sorry K, I really will sell your car... or buy it myself... soon... I promise.)

There's just never a dull moment around here!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Monday!

Crazy Casa K

Things that make me happy today...

  • The light snow drifting down this morning while I did the barn work. As the sun came up and reflected off each tiny flake they looked like diamonds floating through the morning air.

  • Talking to K (dd#3) this morning, she called all the way from Ghana and it was SO good to hear her voice and know she's doing well. (Here she is in her room in her host family's home.)

    • The juicy, sweet pears I bought at the store the other day... I could live on them!

      • The friendly people I came into contact with today... the girl at Office Depot, the older woman at Target, the glass guy who came to the house... each a bright spot in the day.

        So now it’s your turn, grab the button on the top of the page and join me for Happy Monday, or just leave a comment and tell me what makes you happy today!

        Thursday, February 14, 2013

        Thrifting Thursday

        I am a hard-core thrift shopper... rarely buying anything new, and liking nothing better than reusing, remaking, or repurposing something that would otherwise be thrown away.

        Just for fun, I thought I'd try to post a thrifting "update" every week or so... thrifting Thursday. :)

        I'll start with this gorgeous cutting board... I paid $1. for it. I needed a new one (mine warped!) and although this one was stained, greasy (yuck!), and most of one side was black with scorch, I could tell by the look and weight of it that it was good wood. Joe sanded it down (the scorch sanded out completely), gave it a good coating of butcher block oil, and now it's beautiful (and flat!).

        See the red metal piece holding it? It's a cast iron napkin holder I found for $3. at Goodwill. I didn't do anything to it, just cleaned it up. I didn't need it for a napkin holder, but I did need something heavy enough to hold up my cutting boards. It works perfectly... I do love cast iron.

        Here's my best "find" recently... some vintage Fisher Price. I found the barn (with most of the animals...) and the school house with the school bus and many of the accessories for $10.

        I didn't take a picture of the school house or bus, I'm not going to keep them, I'll probably list them on ebay... I really wanted the barn and the accessories (and the school house came with),  but don't need another larger item like the school house sitting around.

        And since we are talking about thrifting, the stool the barn is sitting on was a thrift store find from a month ago or so. It was $4. and r-o-u-g-h. It looked like it had been kept outside, the wood was weathered and rough, and the finish was just about worn off. I gave it a good sanding, stained and poly-ed it, and it's beautiful. I knew it was oak, so knew it was good wood, but I was still surprised at how nicely the wood cleaned up.

        Well, that's all for now...

        Happy Thrifting!

        Tuesday, February 12, 2013

        ~~~~a dulcimer story~~~

        I try very hard not to accumulate "stuff". Over the years I've gotten rid of collections of things I've had (Nativity Sets, books, etc) because I do believe that having "enough" should be enough... When new (to us, we rarely buy anything brand new) things come into our home... whether it's clothing, books, or even furniture, a like number of similar things go out.

        So when my brother Loren gave me a mandolin a few weeks ago, I knew it was time to clear out the collection of musical instruments that had been piling up. I have a hard time saying no to a good instrument, discarded at a thrift store... I imagine the music still left in it and think it needs a good home. (mine...)

        So, I posted a listing on our homeschool group message board to sell a keyboard I bought for R (but she never really took to), a mountain dulcimer I bought used a few years ago, and the "extra" uke (M decided he didn't want to play after all). All was good until I got a reply to my post from a HS group member, saying she would like to buy the dulcimer.

        Knowing it might be on it's way out the door caused a moment of panic... and the thought of "But I can't let it go!".

        As I thought about my dulcimer and my history with dulcimers I decided my reaction made sense, and I would have to (apologetically) let the person who is interested in buying it know that I've changed my mind...

        Just for fun, here's my dulcimer story...

        Joe and I started going out while I was still in high school, it was the mid-70's then (yes, I'm dating myself!) and the world was still pretty wrapped up in peace, love and grooviness. Joe and I were definitely hippie-wannabes. His hair was pony-tail long, and mine hung down to my hips, and we both had some pretty cool bellbottoms in the closet...

        We got married just out of high school (I was still in my teens...) and settled into being grownups.

        One weekend we decided to head to downtown Denver for a cool thing they were doing... the Capitol Hill People's Fair. The fair had been around for 5-6 years by that time and was busy, and vibrant, and we spent a beautiful summer afternoon walking around looking at all the stands of handcrafted goods, clothes, and food. At one stand I bought Joe a heavy white button-down shirt (almost a canvas kind of fabric) with beautiful flowers embroidered  here and there on the crisp white background. (We kept that shirt forever, I think one of our grown kids has it now...) At another shop he saw me playing with the mountain dulcimers and bought a kit to make me one.

        After weeks of work the dulcimer was done and stained a lovely dark walnut color. I bought a book and played a little here and there...

        And then I had a baby and by the time she was up and walking, the dulcimer had migrated to the closet.

        I still wanted to play... I loved the sweet dulcimer sound.

        But life was busy, and then I had another baby...

        And another baby...

        And adopted a son...

        And adopted another daughter...

        And by then I was pushing middle age, and the dulcimer Joe made me had been loved, and played with, by all five kids... and was definitely worse for the wear.

        And by then I never even thought of playing a dulcimer... (although I never considered for even a moment getting rid of the one Joe made me)

        One day a few years ago, while wandering around the thrift store, I saw a simple, older, mountain dulcimer on the counter. I was immediately drawn to it... I picked it up checked it for cracks or warping, and gave the strings a little strum.

        That's all it took, I was sold. (I even blogged about it here.)

        I taught myself (again) to play and have spent many lovely hours picking out soft sweet ballads, and enjoying the rhythms of the old time dance tunes.

        And it makes me think of when Joe and I were still teenagers, and he bought me a kit and made me an instrument...

        No, this dulcimer isn't the one he made, but it's still not going anywhere...

        I'm off now to change the "for sale" listing on our homeschool group message board, and offer apologies to the mom who was hoping to buy my dulcimer...

        Monday, February 11, 2013

        Happy Monday!

        Crazy Casa K

        Renee, over at A Baker's Dozen and Apollo XIV, is having a "happy Monday" at her place and I thought I'd join her.

        Things that make me happy today:

      • The barn work this morning. Yes, it was cold, and still half-dark, but I do love "visiting" with Murphy and Tucker... They are so warm and fuzzy with their thick winter coats, and I love looking into their huge, soft, trusting eyes..

      • The co-op class with our homeschool group we are going to today.

      • The hornpipe I have running through my head... I'm learning it on the mando and think I'm finally getting the timing right.

      • A lovely hot cup of Barry's tea on a cold winter morning.

      • So now it's your turn, grab the button on the top of the page and join us for Happy Monday, or just leave a comment and tell me what makes you happy today!


        Is the name of the game... at least for the rest of the month.

        M LOVES Special Olympic sports, and his favorite sport is basketball. This is the first year in several he's really been able to play through the season... The past few years he either hasn't been able to play at all (recovering from hip surgery) or only been able to play a little now and then (because of hip pain). He still has pain from his hip dysplasia and the joint disease in his hips, but he's determined to play this year and LOTS of ibuprofen has been getting him through the season.

        Here are a few pictures taken at a "practice" tournament this past week... (M is #27)



        The BIG tournament is next weekend and once it's done his hips will get a break... Luckily Special Olympics swimming practice has already started... hopefully a little water therapy will help his hips feel happy again.

        Saturday, February 2, 2013


        ... can be good.

        But it can also be hard.

        Our dd#3 (K) left today for the Peace Corps... For the next 27  months she'll be living in West Africa.

        It's an amazing, awesome opportunity for her. I'm proud, happy, jealous... but also sad and missing her already.

        I'd thought I was done with blogging... It was taking a lot of time, and it seemed like everything I had to say I'd already said... and all the pictures of pretty snowy days or windy summer pastures had already been posted.

        But then K left, and I started thinking that she might want to have a place, while she's away, to see what we're up to here at home. Internet will probably be sporadic at best where she'll be living, but hopefully she'll have a little online time.

        So, Woodstone Prairie blog is up and running again...  so K has a place to check out what's going on at home while she's away.

        Here are a few random photos from the past few weeks...

        My brother, Loren (who was also in the Peace Corps) who came for a PCV to PCV visit with K.

        Loren brought a gift for me... a mandolin. I've been playing almost non-stop since he left...  ;)

        Here's a (slightly fuzzy) photo K took of me showing the difficulties of trying to play the mando while talking on the phone...

        And K and R playing a lovely little duet on K's last night at home...

        And finally, the rising sun burning through the fog one early morning last week...