Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mackinac Moment

As my daughter got up off the couch to head up to bed tonight, she happened to look out into our backyard. "Why does everything  look so red?" she asked; the entire backyard had an ethereal reddish glow. One look up into the sky and she had her answer. 

I can only imagine how amazing tonight's sunset was for those on Mackinac with a westerly view. I may not be able to see the water from my house, but my little patch of sky makes me smile. Now, all I need are some northern lights!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Classroom Couch Redo

I've had this little love seat for ages; at least 15 years. Originally I had it in my classroom, but when my teaching assignment changed to only math and science there just wasn't room for her in the room.  So for the last ten years or so she's lived out in the storage building. As you can see she wasn't much to look at; stained and ugly. Well, at least she use to be stained and ugly - now she looks fabulous!

It's hard to believe that it's the same couch. Thanks to this tutorial, she is now a beautiful bright turquoise and  I couldn't be happier with how she turned out. Believe it or not, I didn't recover her - she's painted. Yeah, you read that right - painted  - with latex wall paint. (Exotic Sea semi-gloss by Valspar.)

I won't redo Kristy's tutorial (because it's great) but I'll give you the basic lowdown. I started by giving the old girl a really good cleaning. Then I went right into the first coat because you want to fabric to be wet to help the paint soak in.

The first two coats of paint (mixed with fabric medium) are really watered down and just soaked right into the fabric. The love seat was kind of a canvasey fabric and really sucked up the paint. In fact, after the first coat the color wasn't all that different.

I was glad that in her tutorial Kristy warned readers about how awful her chair looked after the first coat. Here's my couch after the first two coats. Pretty blotchy, huh. But she looked better after each one.

Kristy used acrylic paint for her final coat of, but I just used the wall paint I bought. I had a custom color mixed at Lowe's rather than trying to mix my own out of small bottles of acrylic. You should have seen the face of The Paint Man at Lowe's when I was asking him about the differences between the cheap paint and the more expensive stuff.

"You're going to paint what? Really?"

To his credit, he never gave me "that look" and kindly suggested I get the higher-end paint because he said it had more pigment than the cheaper stuff. He thought since it covered walls in fewer coats there would be more color to soak into the fabric and I'd get a better result. It was about $10.00 more expensive for the gallon, but I think it was worth it. It was just a few dollars more to get a gallon than it was to get two quarts, so I have about 1/2 of the gallon leftover. Now, every time I walk by the ugly old metal filing cabinet in my classroom I keep getting ideas. Before next fall, it may be turquoise as well...

Kristy's chair only took three coats, but my love seat needed four, and the cushion took five coats  to achieve a nice even color. I think it was because of how warn the fabric was in some spots. Those spots soaked up more paint that the less-worn areas. The front edge of the cushion was the worst; it had a spot that was almost threadbare. I actually dabbed a few extra coats on that spot.

Now, you're probably wondering how the couch feels to sit in. It certainly isn't as soft as it originally was, but that's OK - it's in my classroom. The kids aren't going to mind that it feels more like outdoor canvas fabric than something soft and snuggly; they're just going to love having a comfortable spot to read.

I followed Kristy's tutorial (mostly) to the letter. However, I did make a few small changes: 
  • I accidentally bought semi-gloss. No problem, it worked fine, though the fabric does have a slight sheen to it now.
  • I didn't sand. My fabric was woven and I was concerned it would weaken it.
  • I only used latex paint.
If you decide you want to give this a try, check out Kristy's Chair's Page. She's linked to lots of people who have tried her tutorial and some of them have great suggestions. I especially enjoyed the Fails section at the end. Those were all mistakes I wanted to avoid! 

Now I just can't wait to see how the kids react to our new little reading corner. I hope they give it an A+.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Who Needs Stray Dogs

Yesterday, while we were sitting at the breakfast table we heard noises coming from the empty lot across the street. It sounded like something was traipsing through the woods - something big. Little did we know a fence had broken nearby and we were soon going to have some company...

some rather large company. The next thing we knew these two Belgian draft horses came walking out of the woods. Over the course of about 30 minutes a total of six horses decided they wanted to take a little walk through the neighborhood.

So we made a phone call or two to let the owners know the horses were loose and sat back to watch. Watching them was kind of fun. They stuck pretty close together; if one decided to head off in one way or another, the group followed. They just  moseyed  up and down the street munching on shrubs and grass as they walked. Before too long Joe arrived to walk them back to the barn and the excitement was over.

Only on Mackinac...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Excursion: Kitch-iti-kipi

Come on, we're heading on a mystery trip. You'll come with us, won't you?

Kitch-iti-kipi, inside Palms Brook State Park is a pretty cool place. You can go out on the observation raft and look through the open bottom into the spring.

It's hard to believe 10,000 gallons (about 630 liters) flow into the spring every second!

The kids thought it looked like there were little volcanoes all over the bottom and it was really cool. It's not my video, but it gives a much better idea of what it actually looks like.

If you happen to be in the Manistique  area, Palms Brook State Park is worth a stop.

And now for a request:

I've been having some issues with Blogger lately, specifically positioning photos and getting them to appear where I want them to in my posts. I'm having to play around with justifying my photos. For some reason horizontal ones have to be left justified in order for the entire photo to appear. The posts look OK when I view them on my laptop, but I'm wondering about other devices.  I've played around with a few here, but I can't try everything, so if things look a bit off, would you let me know? Thanks!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Alanson Riverfest

We spent the day here, enjoying their annual Riverfest celebration. We discovered Riverfest by accident a few years ago on our way to get groceries. As we were driving through town, the kids saw all the bounce houses and begged to stop. Now Riverfest is on the calendar and we try to stop every summer.

We just can't pass up the opportunity to bounce the afternoon away, but beating on your brother can be lots of fun, too.

The local scout troop had their Pinewood Derby track set up and invited the kids to give racing a try.

But if car racing wasn't up your alley, they also had minnow races.

Of course we couldn't leave without enjoying some deep fried food on a stick. I think it's a requirement at events like this.

I think the kids' favorite part of the day was the fishing. This was the first year we realized there was a kid's fishing pond behind this shop. The kids caught three rainbow trout, which was great. But the best part was the Young's guys gutted all three fish and even put them on ice for our drive home. Talk about fabulous!

For dinner tonight Allen deep fried fish sticks for the kids, and pan fried the remaining two fish for he and I. Oh my - it was good.

A darn good meal at the end of a darn good day.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

One Lucky Girl

I know it's a bit warm for her to wear it these days, but this winter it's sure to become a favorite. One day this little girl will realize not everyone is lucky enough to have a grandma who knits special sweaters and even alters the pattern so the sweaters are long enough to be worn with leggings (just about the only long "pants" this particular little girl will currently wear.) Thank you Grandma!