Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?

The sunrise shimmering through the trees...

Friday, September 27, 2013

It's finally here...

... and it was love at first

My new mandolin...


It was a bit of a splurge... but totally worth it. It has a lovely tone, soft and mellow, and is a joy to play. I did my research before I bought and this seemed to be the best mandolin for the money. The music store in town ordered it in for me (and price matched the price the online stores, like amazon and mandolin hut, were asking) and I was a little nervous... ordering it without having had the chance to play one... but it's all that I was hoping for, and more, and the guy who owns the music store was so impressed with it that he's going to order another for his store. :)

So, if I'm slow to answer emails, and letting the phone go to voice mail, you'll know why... I'm happily curled up someplace with my new toy, playing my favorite tunes. ;)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

barn quilt

I guess it's time to post some pictures of the "barn art" I painted on the shed.

I painted a barn quilt... something  I've always wanted to paint on the barn, but because of the height of our barn haven't been able to. Unlike fabric quilts, which consist of many quilt blocks connected into a pattern, barn quilts are usually just a single quilt block pattern painted onto a barn (or other building), or painted onto a wooden base that is mounted on the barn. In some parts of the country there are many barns with quilts, but not so much here in Colorado. I did find a quilt "trail" in Morgan County that the kids and I might have to drive up to see one day soon. You can read more about barn quilts here.

But back to our barn quilt...

I found a quilt block pattern I liked (just a regular one for fabric)... one that didn't have too much fine detail, and I thought would look good in solids (no way I was going to try and paint a pattern!). I drew it out on graph paper and played around with colors, eventually cutting up paint chips to make the pattern so I could see the actual colors I would be using next to each other.



Then I decided how big I was going to make it (mine is 7' square), and from there it was simple work to enlarge the pattern and draw it out on the back (road side) of the shed. You can see the design I picked is basically just nine squares with varying amounts of detailing... so I just divided my 7' square into thirds each direction and used a straight edge to draw the detailing.

And then it was just a matter of painting it on. :)

The painting took about four hours total, spread over a couple of days (and I still need to get back out there and do some touch up). I didn't tape off my lines, I thought it would be way more trouble that it was worth... I can paint a pretty straight line, so I just free-handed it.

I painted one color at a time, finishing up both coats (three coats of the yellow) before moving on to the next color.



(The masking tape around the edge of the quilt didn't serve any purpose while I was painting, it was leftover from when I was planning the size of the quilt... it gave me a visual of how big it would be.)


Ta-da! All finished...


Some detail... my lines aren't perfect by any stretch, but from a distance you don't see the mistakes. ;)


The only thing I might some day change are the green areas of the square... they seem to get "lost" in the other colors... I'm wondering if they might look better either white or black.

But that's another day...

So there is my second bit of "barn art".  :) I like this picture because you can see my first barn art in the background... "Mr Barn" (so named by a very young neighbor) still happily smiling out at the world. (You can read more about "Mr Barn" here.)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tour of Five Points

We headed into Denver yesterday for a tour of the historic 5 Points neighborhood. It was a co-op class through our homeschool group and it was one of the best tours we've gone on... The 5 Points neighborhood has, for many years, been the heart of the
African American community there so I especially wanted R to learn more about it. It's an area rich in history, culture and it has a special kind of energy.

The one hour walking tour wasn't nearly long enough to do more than scratch the surface of 5 Point's history, but it was enough to give us a taste for the countless stories connected to the neighborhood and the people who've lived there, and make us hungry to learn more. Along our route there were signposts on some of the buildings, telling about their history, and about the people who were part of that history.

Needless to say R was fascinated... She knows it's likely that at least some members of her birth family lived in 5 Points, and so the neighborhood is likely part of her personal story too... even though she's never lived there.

I took a few pictures, but R wanted to be photographer for the day so she took most of these...

We started at 24th and Welton outside the Blair- Caldwell African American Research Library.

Here's our wonderful tour guide... an educated, enthusiastic guide makes all the difference. He really made the history come alive!


Some of the plaques we stopped at...



District 3 Fire Station then:



And now...


The firefighters on duty were nice enough to come out and talk to us a little about the history of their station. It's the city's oldest operating firehouse and has been at this location since 1931. (The original station 3 was located right across the street... it started operating at that location in 1884!)  M started talking to the firefighters and discovered one of them was friends with our next door neighbor (also a firefighter). Leave it to M to find a connection there... what a small world!


R took a lot of pictures of the historical photographs displayed on the buildings around 5 Points... I especially liked this one of the mandolin and banjo players. ;)



We didn't go into any of the shops or businesses during our tour, but after I saw this antique folding ruler star in a shop window I had to go back after the tour to get it.


It took two stops to catch someone at the shop, but I did get it and will hang it up someplace here... Not only is it kind of an interesting star, but I'm hoping it will be a visual reminder to R of 5 Points (5 points on the star, get it?) and the rich history of her ancestors that we learned more about there...

Thanks so much Liese for setting up this tour, it was the perfect way to spend the day!

If you would like to see more of our tour and learning more about the history of 5 Points, check out Liese's post here, it's a great post about the tour and 5 Points!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

easy rolodex upcycle

Several months ago, Joe brought home a bunch of Rolodex cards that they no longer used at his work. He'd found them in a drawer somewhere, and probably should have just thrown them out... but he thought maybe I could use them. (This picture show about half of what he brought home!)

I'm not one to throw out something that could be useful either, and used a few of the card in my desktop organizer which I'd picked up at Goodwill, painted and distressed a few months earlier.

But there were still HUNDREDS of Rolodex cards left... way more cards than I would ever have friends! ;)

Then one day when I was hunting around for a piece of scrap paper for a phone number or something, I realized I should just start using those Rolodex cards as scrap paper. It was a perfect way to use them up. But I didn't want a pile of old Rolodex cards sitting on my kitchen counter for the next five years... so I started thinking about how to corral them; keep them handy to use, but not taking up a lot of space or getting scattered all over the place.

This is what I came up with...

I'm so happy with how it turned out I thought I'd share. :)

First, I bought this old Rolodex holder at the thrift store for .99 (pretend it's in one piece, I forgot to take a picture before we "disassembled" it. I only wanted the round part in the middle that holds the cards but couldn't figure out a way to take it apart (it seemed to be glued), so Joe just broke the outside apart so I could get to the round card holding part.

Once I had the part I wanted I had to think of a way to hang it up. I'd already decided I wanted it hanging on the side of the frig. where it would be mostly out of sight,  but still handy for grabbing a piece of scrap paper. After going through Joe's
junk hardware drawers for inspiration, I found a few of these:

... which I thought would be perfect on the ends of the round card holder. I needed something there that would hold whatever cording I used to hang it with. Unfortunately my newly found spiggot handle end pieces wouldn't attach to the metal piece that was running through the round card holder. A quick trip to Home Depot fixed that with a double threaded bolt that was the correct diameter to thread in the ends of my spiggot handle ends.

It was quick work to thread the bolt through the round plastic holder, then screw a spiggot handle to each end, and tie a piece of jute as a hanger. (A strong magnet holds it to the frig.)

I finished off my little project off with some labels E got me...  ;)

I'm very happy with how it turned out, and happy to have found a use for those cards...(we use them all the time now that they are handy!)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?

That the "barn art" I painted on the shed wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, and is finished... except for a little touch up here and there.

Here's a sneak peak...

More pictures later...  :)

(And apologies for ads that seem to be showing up here... I'm seeing links connected to words in this post that connect to ads. This must be because I'm still using my old brower to update this blog. Sigh... I'll get it all fixed one of these days...)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dr Watson, I do believe you've got it!

Doesn't Sherlock Holmes say something like that when he's figured out a mystery that has everyone at Scotland Yard scratching their heads in befundlement? (I can't believe the spellchecker didn't red underline befundlement... I didn't even think it was a real word! I guess it is...)

Anyway... I've been unable to access this blog for days. It would look as though it recognized me as "owner" of the blog (showing me options for editing posts, etc.) but each time I'd try to actually DO anything it would give me an error message.

So I searched for fixes online... I ran my Norton... I defragmented... I asked my daughter to help and she had no problem accessing my blog from her computer... even being able to post. (Thank you B for your help!) I started another blog, wondering if it was the site... or me. The other blog worked fine. I started thinking it was time to look into a new computer, as everything I was reading was that my computer must have corrupted files and would soon be toast.

Yes... it's been a frustrating week.

And then I decided to try another browser... I've gotten used to Google Chrome and really liked it, but I wondered if the corrupted files (or whatever was going on) was in my browser. So I set my old browser as my default and...

...wonder of wonders... here I am. No miserable error messages blocking me out. Yay!

On the agenda for today? (Now that I'm no longer spending countless hours trying to fix this computer...) Start painting the "barn art" on the side of the shed. I taped off the general shape on the shed and drew the design on (in pencil) the other day... and a quick run to Home Depot last night got me the paint I needed.

As soon as it warms up enough to paint, I'll be out there...

International Book Week

My sister posted this on her facebook page, and I thought it would be fun to play along...

"It's International Book Week
The rules: Grab the book nearest you, turn to page 52 and post the 5 th sentence on the page. Post the rules as part of your status."

Here's 52, sentence 5 " Why, they just don't let on, like she was a regular person."

In reading the rules I guess I'm not supposed to post the title, and let people guess. I'm thinking it's a longshot that, by one sentence anyone would know...

What are you reading? Want to guess what I'm reading?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Cody channel... all Cody, all the time

Cody got a new "do" the other day. I finally took him back to the place that groomed him right after we got him... and did such a good job. It costs more... but he looks so good when he's done.


When we got home I thought I'd snap of few pictures of his newly combed out cuteness... but it ended up being more of a job than I thought it would.


He very obediently sat and stayed for me... all the time looking up down, over here over there. Unable to hold still for even a moment...


He had mischief in his eyes and wanted nothing more than to run around the house like a wild dog (getting rid of the smelly stuff they put on him!).


But finally he got tired of sitting and laid down...


I love his tidy little feet ...


We'll see how long it takes before he's looking like his scruffy little self again!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

a blast from the past

One of the cool things about blogging for a number of years is being able to look back at past blog posts... Just for fun (and because I can't think of anything to write about) I decided to repost a "blast from the past"; a post I wrote in September of 2006.  Enjoy! And have a good day.... :)

Oh-oh the Wells Fargo wagon is a comin’ down the street…

Sep 1st, 2006 by woodstone Edit |

…oh, please let it be for me!


Oh-oh, the Wells Fargo wagon is a comin’ down the street,
I wish I wish I knew what it could be!

Am I the only one who loves the old musical “The Music Man”? Remember cute little red-haired Ronnie Howard, playing Shirley Jones’ little brother and singing this song?

I think of that song whenever the UPS man drives down our road. If the kids see him coming, they both drop whatever they are doing and watch him… until he either drives down our driveway, or keeps going past the house.

If he drives down the driveway, they both make a mad dash for the front door… sure he must have brought something wonderful for them. It doesn’t matter that they almost never get anything… that most of the stuff he brings is boring “dad” stuff, or homeschool materials. None of that matters… They greet the poor UPS guy like a long lost friend, while at the same time fighting over who gets to carry the package up to the house.

If you can picture both kids running madly out the front door, with Emma (our 90 lb golden retriever) right behind them “smiling” (looks like a snarl) and sneezing from excitement (the dog, not the kids)… you can probably imagine why the UPS guy sometimes seems a little hesitant to get out of his truck.
Anyway, yesterday was M and R’s lucky day. The package that came was for them! And it was from their Uncle Steve!! (a person whose reputation borders on the legendary at our house…)

They each got an awesome rugby shirt (and they both fit perfectly, a miracle!!) and I got some wonderful Barry’s tea. (Which I’m enjoying tremendously) M also got a personalized birthday card from Steve, which is too cool not to share…

Here’s the card… (edited to remove his name)

If you aren't sure of the significance of the coat, please read this entry...)

Thanks Steve... you made our day.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?

Seeing my daughter K for the first time since February 4th when she left for Ghana with the Peace Corps.



Yes, it's only skype... which is not the same as really being able to see her.



But it was very good nonetheless.


Friday, September 13, 2013




Outside my window...  although it's after 6 it's still dark, very dark as the sky covered with a thick layer of clouds dark... and it's raining. Again. (or maybe still) No flooding here, thank goodness, and I've never been more thankful for a barn with a huge hay loft to keep our hay, and animals, out of the weather.

I am thinking... about how nice the quiet of the early morning is.

I am thankful... for the blessings of the "ordinary" days we've been having.

In the kitchen... I made rellenos and a big pot of green chili last night. favorite dinner!

I am creating... I've been working to replenish my supply of knitted dishcloths (almost 4 done, I'd like to make another one or two) and working on learning some new mando tunes from the book my brother sent me. The book is Christmas music with "variations"; more complex arrangements and fingerings added to the simple old melodies. I'm having way too much fun working my way through the old familiar and old but new-to-me Christmas carols.

I am going... to brave the rain and go do the barn work in a minute. We've gone from 90+ degrees last week to needing to bundle up in a coat and big rain slicker this week. No I'm not complaining... this works for me. :)

I am hoping... M's "movie night with the guys" tonight works out. He's been so looking forward to having a couple of friends over to watch "guy" movies and hang out. I hope the rain doesn't throw a damper on the evening.

I am looking forward to... taking the kids for a day trip next week to the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. I was hoping to do it this week, but  it's been TOO rainy. Next week should be perfect.

I am learning... some new mando tunes. Note to fingers: limber and quicken up!

Around the house... I've started working on a game table a bought a month or two ago. It's a little rough now, and still in the "repair" stage of things... I'll share pictures later.

I am pondering... no pondering this morning, brain isn't awake enough yet. :)

A few plans for the rest of the weekend... finish shopping for daughter K's birthday, get some movies for M and his buddies to watch tonight, Special Olympics bowling tomorrow, and a quiet stay home day on Sunday.

A peek into my day...

[caption id="attachment_5257" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="rain chimes doing their thing..."][/caption]

Visit Peggy's blog for more about The Simple Woman's Daybook

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thrifting Thursday (shed "foundation")

The shed is nearly complete, and I've been feeling pretty good about how it's turned out... the nice fresh paint, the cheery red metal roof... but then my neighbor came over the other day (the neighbor we share chickens with, she was bringing eggs) and kind of popped my job-well-done bubble. She started off by referring to the shed as our "Taj Mahal" (Hmm... have we gone a little overboard?? ) and then confessed it scared her... she's afraid to walk past it.


Yes, I was seriously confused by this. The shed looks entirely non-threatening to me... it's just a 10x10 building sitting on the edge of the driveway.

As my neighbor kept talking it came out that the openness underneath the shed was scaring her... she was sure something was going to make a home under the shed (a huge bull snake, or maybe a skunk?) and this loathsome creature would lay in wait for her (think dragon in a cave) coming out to ambush... or at least frighten... her as she walked by.


Hmm... this seemed a bit unlikely to me, but maybe I was missing the danger and we'd really built a hulking threat in the front pasture. And it was true that I wasn't crazy about the way the shed seemed to "float" on it's foundation stones (because the ground is uneven, leveling it left a good sized gap underneath on two sides), and I had thought I'd do something, someday, to "pretty" that up.  After hearing my neighbor's fears I decided to move "someday" to "today" since my shed had apparently become somewhat of a threat to public safety. ;)

I decided to fix the problem by building a "faux" foundation out of large cobblestones. We ran down to the sand and gravel place and for $50. got over 2 tons of large cobblestones (choosing cobblestones because it would match the stones the kids and I had already edged the bottom of the driveway with).


We unloaded the stone out by the shed, and I played around a little with them on Sunday, laying them out to see how to make it look the way I wanted it to. Monday morning I got serious and little by little arranged the rock to close the gap under the shed and form a faux foundation of stone.

It wasn't hard to do (if you don't mind hauling rocks) I  mostly just piled them up in kind of a triangular shape... wider at the bottom for stability, using the biggest stones there, and saving the smaller stones for on top and filling in the smaller spaces. My goal was not to make a perfectly solid wall around the bottom of the shed, I had the wrong stones for that kind of thing... just have it mostly closed off. (Enough to reassure my neighbor and look nice at the same time!) The gap under the shed was large in places, but it filled in pretty well... and now there are just a few small spaces left for creatures to get in and possibly make their homes. (The only spot still open is in the front on either side of the ramp Joe is building, I can't finish that side up until he's done....)

My neighbor hasn't been over since I finished the "foundation"... I hope she will feel better about walking past our shed now. ;)


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

And speaking of old things....

... with little or no monetary value.

Back when we picked up our shed, I saw that the guy we'd bought it from had a large old wooden ladder laying in his trash pile. It wasn't broken, just a little old and rickety... It was too good to just throw away, so I rescued itasked for it and brought it home. (Actually, I snuck it home... hiding it on the trailer under some large shed pieces... Joe didn't know we had it until we started to unload. ;)

Once it came off the trailer, I had no idea what to do with it. So it laid out by the driveway all summer... while I pondered over it and wondered why I'd brought it home.... and what I could use it for.

That's it in the foreground, the ladder close to the shed is our good, usable, 10' ladder... sadly, the wooden one is too rickety to use.


E has a great old ladder in her living room (found in their barn when they moved in) that holds a couple of warm throws for cool evenings. So I knew my old ladder could still be useful... but E's ladder is normal sized... the one I brought home is 10' tall. It's hard to find uses for something that TALL...

I finally decided I needed to bring it up on the porch, out of the rain... so the wood wouldn't rot away to nothing while I was trying to decide what to do with it. I moved it up the porch steps, but found that it was too tall to stand up on the front porch except in the highest corners up close to the house. I  moved the pile of mud boots and stood it up in the only open corner that was tall enough (because laying down it took up the whole porch!)... and then inspiration hit... and I started loading it up with mud boots (and a grapevine pumpkin I impulsively picked up at a thrift store the other day :) ).



Turns out that good-for-nothing-too-big-too-rickety ladder makes a perfect mud boot holder on the front porch! I did end up sawing a few inches off the bottom to shorten it so it could be moved away from the front door a little... and, at some point, I'll attach it up top to the porch header with a couple of screws... just to make sure a winter storm doesn't doesn't blow it over.



Awesome... mudboots are no longer laying in a huge pile on the front porch, and the big ladder has found a use... I love win-win kinds of situations!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

a little history (hakata urasaki nativity)

I love history... not so much facts and dates... but the stories of people and places long (and sometimes not so long) ago.

So of course I love old things, because of the stories they can tell. I especially love old houses...lots of stories there. (I researched the history of our first house, a little 1920's bungalow, all the way back to the time the lot was nothing but prairie... and wrote it's had wonderful stories to tell!) Because of this love of the history of things... I am often drawn to things that seem to have little or no (monetary) value... because of their history... the stories they can tell.


We were working at M's thrift store worksite a few weeks ago when I found an old box pushed back under a table in the office. It must have come in at the beginning of a busy donation time because it was buried under old linens, boxes of books, pots and pans, and toys.  I pulled it out and opened it up and found a yellowed newspaper carefully laid on top of whatever the contents were. The paper was a New York Times, dated June of 1977. Intrigued, I removed the newspaper and started unwrapping the contents of the box. It was an old nativity... I thought at first it was plaster... and many of the pieces were chipped, or had repairs, and a few were broken. The thrift stop doesn't keep things that are not in good shape, so I asked what I should do with it... I could tell it was old, but it was broken, did they want it? They said it was too beat up to keep, that they would either throw it away or donate it to a less picky thrift store. When I asked if I could have it they said sure...

I brought it home and researched the set, helped by the small paper tags on the bottom of each piece. What I discovered filled my imagination for days... The nativity is a Hakata Urasaki Nativity Set, made in Japan during or immediately after the U.S. occupation of Japan after WWII. (The set was probably made in, or around, 1950.) The Korean War was underway at the time and U.S. soldiers were stationed close to Korea in the  Japanese Prefecture of Fukuoka.  The U.S. Military had ordered the Nativity Sets (and probably other Hakata Urasaki dolls) made as souvenirs for the U.S. soldiers serving in the area.  Here's a link to more information (and a very charming website):

I brought the box home, unwrapped each piece and left them sitting out for days... imagining life in occupied Japan, the Korean war coming so soon after WWII, a serviceman bringing the nativity home and it meaning so much to his family that it was repaired, not just once but multiple times, and kept...carefully wrapped... for more than 60 years.


The set isn't plaster, it's clay... and the pieces are hand painted. Unlike the Hakata dolls made for the Japanese, these were also coated with something that would make them "washable". There is a story behind that too... Rather than retell it, I'll copy what I found:

"Supposing that you handle Hakata doll with bare hands, Hakata doll will be easily soiled with finger marks, what is more important, in the event that you clean Hakata doll with wet towel, clothes painted on the surface will be damaged. The wholesalers... were afraid that U.S. military personnel do such an act , in other words, they feared the claim from U.S. military headquarters who were their clients. Because of that, they finished up Hakata Urasaki doll by coating the surface with a kind of waterproofing paints, and so, please note that Hakata Urasaki doll is not "washable" unlike standard pottery dolls. "

(The above is taken from the "Japanese Handicrafts Shop" site, link above.)

I'm not sure what will become of my Hakata Urasaki Nativity...I really don't need another nativity set, especially an incomplete one with broken pieces...(Mary and one of the wise men are broken, Jesus is missing) but I can't throw it away... it has such a story to tell.

A few pictures:


Mary... sadly, her hands are broken off... but isn't her face lovely?


Wise Men...




I LOVE the camel's face!


The whole set...