Tuesday, August 26, 2014

DIY: Magazine Files

Because I have limited space in my new place,
I have to make use of as much vertical storage space as possible.
So I had Big E install some shelves above the desk in our room.
But because I still wanted the room to look nice
(as nice as it can with the nasty paneling and ugly carpet)
I wanted to use magazine files to hide all the computer paper,
clip boards, binders, spiral note books and magazines.
Unfortunately the nice magazine files are pricey.
So I happened to find a way to make my own.
First, you need boxes.
The USPS is nice enough to offer them for free.
Just walk in and get them from the display.
You'll need to make sure that a magazine will fit.
I used 2 different sizes, one that just fit the 8.5 width of a magazine
and one larger that can hold binders and such.

Put your boxes together and tape them shut
just like you were getting ready to ship it.

Now it's time to cut the box to the right shape.
Measure about 1.5" from the front edge
and draw a line
(as seen on the left side of the box above)
then draw a line from the corner of the box to the end of the line
(this makes the diagonal cut)
Use a box cutter to cut along the line
and your box will then look like the one above.
On the inside of the box, tape down the loose flaps so they don't snag anything.
Then you have a magazine file.
But it's ugly.
I tried using wrapping paper to cover them, 
but was less than happy with the result.
Then I had an idea.
Decorative duct tape.
Just run the tape down the box.
I left about an inch on the ends to fold over the edges.
At the corners, 
cut the tape so that it lays flat and neat.
And here you have the finished product.
Because the pattern is so busy, 
I didn't really worry about lining it up 
and it looks fine. 
(I promise to take better photos next time!)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Last Haul

We finally found time to pay attention to our struggling garden.
This year, it just doesn't seem to be doing very well at all.
Last year we had produce all over the place- 
so much I couldn't keep up with preserving it all.
Not this year.
I blame the late spring start,
the cooler than normal temps
and lack of fertilization.
So our next step is to fertilize the heck out of the garden.
While we were hacking down the jungle growth weeding
I came across this fat Eastern American Toad
hiding in the soil beneath what was supposed to be my cabbage plants.
(they were plants, they just never gave me cabbage)
He was pretty fat.
Big E yelled at me to stop playing with the toad and start 
wielding my machete helping him weed.
The squash bugs are one of the few things that are growing well.
The ground was moving with them. 
So we ripped out most of the squash and zucchini and pumpkins
and I sprayed the area with Neem oil hoping to kill them off.
This probably the last large haul from the garden this year.
Carrots and beets did well.
I'll be canning those this week.
The tomatoes are doing ok,
hopefully I'll continue to get some so I have enough for pasta sauce.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Making Grapes Last

In my house, grapes are the one fruit I can count on my son eating.
Plus they're easy to pack in a lunch.
But more often than not, 
they start getting nasty before we get a chance to eat them all.
Then I came across an idea of mixing vinegar and water
and soaking the grapes in the mixture.
The vinegar washes off nasty things on the grapes
plus it kills fungus and such that can make your grapes go bad.
I've had grapes last nearly 3 weeks.
No more wasted grapes!
So, here's what you do.
Get a large bowl.
Mix 1 part vinegar with 4 parts water.
I usually do 1 cup white vinegar to 4 cups of water. 
Put the grapes in and let them sit for a while.
I usually let them sit at least 20 minutes.
When they're done, 
drain the mixture off and let them air dry.
Don't rinse them off or anything.
I promise you won't taste any vinegar.
Then I separate them into snack bags and put them in the fridge.
Makes an easy snack to throw in the lunchbox or grab on the go.
(I shared this with my cousin who tried it and had the same results)

You can also use this for other fruits and veggies.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Make Your Life Extraordinary

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            The arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

~ Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Poem from Robin Williams' movie Dead Poets Society

Everyone is fighting their own battles.
No one is perfect.
Everyone has a story.
One conversation, one kind word or gesture could be the thing that saves someone's life.

And if you're someone who suffers from depression, you aren't alone even if you feel that way, you really aren't.  There are people who can help.

The National Suicide Hotline Number is 1-800-273-8255
The call is free, confidential and answered by a trained counselor.
Go to this site Suicide Prevention Online for information on how to get help or how to report suicidal comments you encounter on social media. 

Get help.
Speak up.
If not for yourself or someone you know or love, do it in gratitude for a man who spent his life making people feel good even when inside he was suffering.

"Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary"

Monday, August 11, 2014

My Nemesis: Squash Bugs

When your squash plants start looking like this:
Chances are you have squash bugs.
Ihave been battling these pests for the past couple of years.
And for the last couple of years,
they have decimated the squash and zucchini plants.

Babies hatching

So, how do you handle a squash bug epidemic?
Short of napalming your garden
(and the other day I considered calling in an airstrike)
you can turn to a couple of possible solutions.
A simple (though back breaking and time consuming) solution
is duct tape.
Wrap the tape sticky side out around your hand
then use it to pull the eggs off the leaves 
and catch the bugs.
I wear gloves while doing this because sometimes I just 
smush the bugs I see.
And I don't really want squashed squash bugs on my hands.
Several bugs and some eggs stuck to the tape
If you just have a couple of plants, 
this can be a fairly effective solution
as long as you stay on top of it.
Or you can go get some Neem Oil
(an organic spray)
and use that too.
I had to resort to that and it has helped,
but populations have exploded so I use tape and spray.