Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snowy Weather Project

A long time ago I saw an idea to make a bird feeder out of pine cones and peanut butter. Several months ago when it snowed for the first time this winter, I asked Tadd to pick up some bird seed on one of his many trips to Home Depot hoping to get to the project on a snowy day. It's hard for birds to find food under all the snow and ice. And when I toss bread crumbs out on the snow, they just sink down and become a soggy mess that I have to clean up when the snow melts. For one reason or another we never got around to making the bird feeders in November. And then we didn't really have much more snow until it was time to pack up for Hawaii, and I didn't have time to make a big mess. Now here it is February and we're blessed with some more snow. It seems like the birds are all getting their nests ready for eggs and having food is more important than ever. So we broke out the supplies and got down to business. In case you want to try, here's a how to:
1. Cover the table with some sort of paper. You could use an old sheet like we do when painting, but chances are that peanut butter and bird seed will get spilled and if you use paper you can roll it all up and throw it away in one fell swoop. Plus, your kids can break out the crayons and draw on the paper while you get this project ready to go.
2. Prep supplies. You will need:
~medium pine cones
~peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
~twine, string or yarn
~bird seed
~paper plates or bowls
Use your scissors to cut lengths of string, twine or yarn. Tie these securely around your pine cones. You'll want to do this before they are covered in sticky peanut butter. Put peanut butter on individual plates for each participant. Put bird seed on another plate (again, one per participant). Place your supplies on the paper in front of each participant.
3. Using knives (I used little butter knives since they are shorter and also dull) slather the pine cones liberally with peanut butter.

4. Roll peanut butter covered cones in bird seed until the peanut butter is no longer visible.

5. Take bird feeders outside and hang them from trees that are visible from your windows. This was the hardest part for me, because I had to find someone to hold the baby while I used both hands to tie the string : ) I can take pictures with Nora in my arms, but not tie string to a tree branch. Thankfully Ezra can keep her off the ground for about 35 seconds these days. This comes in handy in a public restroom as well!

6. Dump excess bird seed off of plates onto ground under the trees.

7. Go back inside and watch for birds! All we attracted were squirrels. They were sure fun to watch. I wished I had used a video cam instead of still camera for this little guy. He tried to run away with the pine cone and when it stuck it whipped him back and he dangled comically. Don't worry, no squirrels were injured in this stunt.

Of course, it does not have to be a snowy day to make bird feeders. Summer time works just as well. Around here we just have to be careful not to do it on a rainy day or the little feeders would only last a matter of seconds.
This is a fun, cheap, easy project--enjoy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Refinished Hutch

Here are the pictures (finally) of the china hutch that we refinished. This was a fun project and sort of a test-run of what is and has been to come. I found this china hutch on Craigs List and paid $60 for it. I needed a tall hutch, not a wide one, so that it could fit into my living room. I was excited to get my china out of the boxes and bubble wrap and into the open where it belongs.
At first I thought I'd want to paint the hutch a nice antique white. Then I saw a picture in a paint catalog of a piece of furniture painted a nice light blue. It stood out. It looked just enough different to make it a point of interest instead of the expected. I liked it. My husband made many, many trips to the paint store for me. He came home with paint, sand paper, tack cloth and tons of advice. My in-laws were thankfully here and willing to help out big time with this project. This is the "before" picture of my $60 hutch.
So--here is a little step-by-step of our furniture refinishing process.
1. Clean the wood. We used Windex. Anything with ammonia should do the job.
2. Lightly sand with a medium grain sand paper. This is just to rough up the surface a bit and give the primer something to stick to.
3. Use a fine grain sand paper to smooth out the wood.
4. Tack cloth to get any dust particles off the furniture.
5. Primer--we used oil based because this is a piece of furniture that will be touched and used a lot. It needs to be durable. Plus, the wood had finish on it already that was not totally removed. Put on a first light coat of primer (or have your mother-in-law do it if she's as nice as mine). Use a second coat of primer. Now--as for dry time, the primer dries pretty fast--but it takes longer to "cure". If you have the time, use it. Let each coat dry a day or two before you move on to the next. This allows the primer to really adhere to the furniture so that it won't chip. Don't forget to use fine-grain sand paper in between and after the primer coats to smooth out any drips and prep the surface for paint.
6. After two coats of primer, move on to the paint. We also used two coats of paint. The paint was oil based as well. However, we used a fairly new product that is oil based, yet can be cleaned up with water. I highly recommend it. It goes on easy, does indeed clean up with water and also does not smell at all like an oil based product. Once again, we sanded with fine grain sand paper between coats. Oh, I almost forgot--I used a different color on the inside than I did on the outside so that there would be a nice contrast. I wanted the china to be the focal point and not the color. So I did use the original antique white I had liked for that part.
7. Let it dry for quite a while. Again, patience is key here. We should have exercised more. Because we didn't we have a few dings in the paint where the doors stuck and where we bumped it while setting it up. If we had waited to move it and put it back together after it had cured, I don't think we would have had that problem.
8. Put it back together and place it where you want it.
9. Have a blast filling it with china--or whatever you want : )
I replaced the hardware on my hutch to help modernize it. Since I only needed 4 knobs I splurged and got them from Anthropologie. Target, World Market, Home Depot, etc. all have some cute knobs as well. There were two other designs I liked better--however they were too wide to be placed side by side on the door like these needed to be. Bummer. But these ones were cheaper than the others at least!
I love looking at this piece of furniture. It adds a lot to the house, it allows me to use my china when I have company, and I always think about how cheap (monetarily, not as far as time and effort go) it was. Since the hutch we've moved on to refinish a dresser for the girls' bedroom and are currently working on some wagon wheel bunk bed frames my parents gave me for Ezra's room.
Thanks to Grandpa and Grandma Giesbrecht for all your help on this project!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Sweet Valentine!

Happy Birthday to Sweet Nora Liv. And happy Valentine's Day to all of you! What a year it has been. As of a few days ago Nora has lived in one place (our new house) for longer than any other place--five months : ) We're praying that her next year (or ten or so) will be much more uneventful!
Here are the stats:
She weighs about 21 pounds
She has 8 teeth (and 4 molars about to pop through)
She's not walking--but has taken her first tentative steps
No clue how tall she is
She says "Ezra" "yes" (with an emphatic nod) and occasionally "Da-da"

We went with some cupcakes with flowers and bees on them.

Nora's birthday party was supposed to be Saturday evening. However, another funeral altered our plans. Our kids were too sick to take to Uncle Dave Lunden's memorial, so we stayed at Great Grandma's house an set up the birthday party while daddy went to the memorial. When Grandpa and Grandma Tractor, Uncle Jake and Aunt Emily, Daddy, Great-Grandma, Uncle Mark and Aunt Patti and even Drewskis got back from the memorial we celebrated Nora's birthday. Thanks for letting us dirty up your house, Great Grandma!
Nora was leaking snot in just about every picture. She's feeling lots better than she did last week, but still on the mend.
Great Grandma's treadmill is a favorite(if not safe) toy.
She may be the fiercest mama's girl out there--but she still shares her love with daddy.

Very interested in what's inside the packages : ) Good thing she had two big helpers so that the process of opening was speedy.

Following in her older brother and sister's footsteps, she did not make a big mess of her cake.

Loving on her new little "sleep sheep". He makes soothing noises and is soft as soft can be. And maybe he'll work a sleep miracle on her.
Thank you Lord Jesus for such a sweet little gift to love and care for!

Monday, February 7, 2011


A sister is not something I had growing up ( I have collected three awesome sisters along the way through marriage, however). So, naturally, I didn't expect to have multiple girls. The same way my mother, who had 2 sisters and no brothers, probably did not expect to have 3 boys and a single girl. Quite frankly I was a little surprised when Nora turned out to be a Nora : ) It has been quite fun watching my girls grow up together. I keep wondering what it will be like when they are teenagers. I'm sure we'll have our share of fighting and emotions, but I do pray that they will stay close.

So far they don't look a lot alike. Nora tends to look very much like Ezra. But I did notice some similarities in these pictures.

Poor Nora is always being mistaken for a boy since I put her in Ezra's jackets and pjs. And her short hair doesn't help.

Can you tell what color is his favorite? And yes, he is wearing a motorcycle jersey with soccer shorts and two aprons.

On a quest to get to know our new downtown area, we tried out the local Donut House the week we studied the letter "Dd". They were pretty tasty. The weather was amazing, if not a little chilly, so we took our donut treats to the park. We want you to come back to the Country Village and play with us this time, Amelia and Wyatt!

Okay, this rooster kept getting sideways to me and then running at me. Sideways. Somehow that made it even creepier. I had the camera in one hand and Nora on my hip and I felt like an idiot, but rather look like a running idiot than a being pecked and screaming idiot : )
Pack ratting, fort making siblings. The other two are inside their bear hunting tent.
Nora likes to climb.
When you're the third child that's how you get a bath...just kidding : )