Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Girl Scout Promise Tree


Last night I gathered some local Girl Scouts together to decorate a tree for our town's festival of trees. I was pretty excited to work with the girls to make ornaments and decorate the tree. I also created some of my own ornaments for the girls to hang.

The theme of our tree was the Girl Scout Law and Promise. I wrote out the Girl Scout Law on the burlap garland. The girls created these promise ornaments and wrote something they do to live by the Girl Scout Law. We mostly had second grade Brownies in attendance, but they all did really well with making their own ornaments and had great insight to how they can apply the Girl Scout Law to their lives.

The girls also made ribbon tree ornaments. They did a great job with the project. To keep the work at the meeting to a minimum, I pre-cut all the ribbons, organized by color and hot glued string on the top of branches before the meeting.

I made some additional decorations, but the girls were responsible for putting them on the tree. The first thing I made was sleds out of Popsicle sticks (mini and jumbo size). I painted them with our tree's colors, navy and green. I distressed them a bit, added some dark wax and added the Girl Scout logo using carbon tracing paper and a silver Sharpie marker.

In addition to the sleds, I created some simple wooden ornaments with words of the Girl Scout Law on them. I also had to add some information about joining this awesome organization!

A tree also has to have a tree skirt. I used some burlap cut in a circle and Sharpie markers to write out the Girl Scout Promise. To keep the skirt from fraying, I used some hot glue on the reverse side of the tree skirt.


 A tree also needs a tree topper, so I cut out the Girl Scout symbol on poster board, added some white glue and green glitter. I now have green glitter all over my entire office. It's very festive.

I also added some ribbon with hot glue to make the edges clean. It attaches to the tree with some green floral wire.

We would love you have you in Girl Scouts. Visit www.girlscouts.org for more information on joining!


Friday, November 18, 2016

First Lutheran Preschool Silent Auction

We have our first snow fall of the season, and it's a blizzard to boot. Since most of our scheduled activities are cancelled, I took the opportunity to make some things for the upcoming Festival of Trees for the First Lutheran Preschool in Volga, South Dakota. The festival is on Sunday, December 11th and will have a ton of activities including a free will donation soup and sandwich meal, a cookies and canvas painting class for both children and adults, and a silent auction.

It was fun to make some Christmas decorations for the silent auction, since I've pretty much hit my decoration limit at home. Some of the local stores started putting out their Christmas craft supplies and I was looking for an excuse to pick up a couple of things.

Some of the items I made are going to be grouped together in a little bundle of coordinating decorations.

The first bundle is my hunting/deer bundle. It will have this simple wreath, a little tree (great for an entry or as a centerpiece) and a table runner. I still need to make some fun shotgun shell ornaments to go on the tree. My husband was really disappointed when I asked him to go out and shoot some stuff so I could have the shells. I'm thinking about adding some red ribbon to the table runner as well so it ties in better with the other two items.

The second bundle is going to have this handmade sign and handmade dog treats.

The last item will stand alone and is a fun Christmas card holder. (The camera wasn't cooperating with me. The sign isn't this dark. Also, it's about four feet long with spots for 12 or more cards, but the camera wasn't wide angle enough.)

I plan on decorating a tree for the event with our local Girl Scouts, so I still have to round up those supplies. (Oh man...more craft supplies to get? How will I ever survive?!?!?) Do you see a theme here? I'm really really liking playing with cursive and paint.

Make sure you check out the festival for some fun silent auction items (both Christmas and non-Christmas related) and some fun activities. The money raised goes straight to the preschool which is a wonderful program both my older children have been apart of.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

DIY Susan B. Anthony Red Voting Scarf

Happy Election Day!

144 years after our great nation was formed, women finally got the right to vote. I remember my first presidential election in 1992. I remember my parents discussing the candidates, and our teacher talking about the election in school. Every election after, I would accompany my parents to the polls and cast my own vote in the amazing Kids Voting program. My second year in college I got to cast my first official vote via absentee ballot. I haven't missed an election since. 

My daughter is now 6. Just a year younger than I was for my first presidential election (that I remember). This year I decided it was time for her to learn about the amazing right to vote. 

Two weeks ago, we watched the movie Suffragette together when she was home sick. That movie (with me fast forwarding through some of the portions that weren't quite appropriate for a 6 year old) led to a discussion about the history of women's rights. We watched portions of the debates (they weren't exactly great for kids this year either). 

Finally, last night we had a big night of watching a documentary about Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Not For Ourselves Alone) and making red scarves together. 

Why red scarves? Well I learned a new fact through our education (and subsequently through a Smithsonian Facebook post). Susan B. Anthony would wear a red shawl so often that it became one of her trademarks. Per the Smithsonian website, "It was said in Washington that there were two signs of spring: the return of Congress to the nation's capital and the sight of Anthony's red shawl as she also returned to lobby congressmen."

 To make ours, I got a yard and a half of a red jersey fabric. My daughter got the half yard, and I got a yard. 

We decorated our scarves with a black fabric marker. My daughter decided what she wanted to write on her scarf with a little help from me. I found the easiest way to write clearly was to put the fabric in a large embroidery hoop. 

On mine, I wrote the language of the 19th amendment and a phrase from this a suffrage poster. 

Today we will be celebrating our right to vote and the sacrifices of many women including Susan B. Anthony by wearing our red scarves all day and to the polls. I've made up a ballot for my daughter with pictures of the candidates so she can cast her own vote tomorrow. It's a privilege to live in a country that gives us the right. 


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

WiFi Thermostat without a C Wire

Like everything in Ugly House when we moved in, our thermostat was straight out of 1979. It's the classic Honeywell round thermostat in a stylish gold hue.  It certainly did the trick, but as we all know, there's more energy efficient options.

I was a bit intimidated to tackle this project. I wasn't sure what it really entailed. However, like other home improvement projects, it was a good to wait to tackle it until we lived in the house and got a feel for what we really needed.

I knew I wanted a programmable thermostat. That makes sense from an energy saving perspective. The second issue was more tricky. We have a duel heat system. In addition to a gas furnace and A/C unit on the thermostat, we also have electric baseboard heating in each room. We use both since there's a crazy set up to our HVAC and some rooms don't get the furnace heat. Adding to the complication is the thermostat is located where there's no furnace heat. So, if you set a temp, you will freeze or burn up all the other rooms before the thermostat even gets close to the set temp.

This strange situation meant that a regular programmable thermostat wasn't going to cut it. I thought immediately of the new WiFi options available.

I didn't go towards the very popular Nest option just because of the price. I might go down that road in a few years when we completely redo the HVAC and when whole home smart hubs have the kinks worked out.

I found this affordable Honeywell one at Lowes.

I realized about 10 minutes into the installation that the normal smart thermostats weren't going to work. Newer systems have what is called a "C wire" but my antique system had the older 4 wire set up.

I had to go back to the drawing board and do a bit of research. I could have forgone the WiFi option and just gone with a regular programmable thermostat which normally run on batteries.

I did find two options that don't require the C wire. The first option actually sounded pretty awesome. The ecobee3 thermostat has an option to add in satellite sensors throughout the house. With our strange set up, I was thinking that would work really well. It did require you to get into the furnace and add in this converter thing. I thought that was do able until I saw the disaster in our furnace area. (The air was added many years after the furnace, and it's quite the set up now) So that option was out.

The second option was a simpler. It's a simple programmable WiFi enabled battery powered thermostat. I decided to give the Sensi a try.

First of all, the instructions aren't included in the box. The instructions are done via the Sensi app. I actually found it extremely helpful. You just had to put in some information and you had customized installation instructions. Additionally, if you got lost on any step, you could watch a how to video right from the app.

I won't bore you with the process to install the thermostat, but I will say from start to a 100% completion only took me 30 minutes. That's including pairing the device with my WiFi.

So far so good. I have already found the WiFi very useful for when I'm laying in bed and it's just too hot or cold. Rather than going downstairs to attempt to fix the setting, I can do it from my bed. I also appreciate being able to set up all the programs on my phone rather than clicking through 50 screens on the device itself. Finally, I look forward to being able to warm the house up before we get home from longer trips and monitoring the heat while we are gone. This model is nothing fancy. It's not going to automatically adjust when you leave the house or "learn" your habits to adjust accordingly like the Nest, but it does solve our issues right now. I count that as a win.

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