Saturday, April 30, 2011

Laundry, Organized

We're pressing on with our new year's resolution
to be more organized.
The focus is on making the house
feel roomy to potential buyers,
despite its modest 1700 square footage.

One of the things I was most grateful for when I became a homeowner was having my own laundry room.
Having lived in apartments during my young
adulthood, a trip to the laundry room
seemed like such a waste of time.
It's so wonderful to be able to throw a load
into the machine and get something else done.
A laundry room is a great project to do
if you're not sure where to start.
It's small and manageable.
It may even motivate you to work on other parts of the house!



Before

We put this cabinet up when we moved in.  The existing
wire shelving was replaced by Big K.  He can't stand the stuff.
Contained here were cleaning supplies,
paper and plastic bags,
shoe polishing supplies and bleach used for the washer.


After

I simply moved the cleaning supplies to the left,
as they required more space.
The rarely used stuff is on the right.
Sometimes you just need to step back and rethink the practical things.

I also stashed a small sewing kit on the upper left shelf,
next to big K's shoe polish.
I donated most of the bags to the farmer
we buy some of our produce from.
She is always in need of bags for her customers
who forget to bring their own.
A few strong ones were saved, in case I need them for taking purged items to the local charity.


Before

We have a storage rack next to the machines
for extra supplies.
We stock up for hurricane season every year,
so this is a great out-of-the-way place to station them.
It had gotten a little out of hand as of late.


After

The top section houses the backpack I use every day
(I don't do purses)
and drinks...

After

while the bottom holds our grocery bags, so they are right by the garage when Saturday's grocery shopping comes along.
Yard shoes keep dirt outside.

I'm lovin' all the space left over.


Before

The machines we bought came with optional drawers.
I never turn down extra storage!
This just needed some cleaning up
to think about what was really needed to be kept here.


After

It's nice to have some tubs available for soaking things or
other types of heavy-duty cleaning around the house. 
This drawer holds two such tubs and
we keep our small A/C filters here too.
Wish I could use those clothespins,
but our HOA doesn't allow clotheslines. 
UGH!


After

Our washing detergent rests here (see the bags on the left?)
and several rolls of paper towels fit on the other side.
(Looks like I better put those on our list.)
I also keep a lingerie bag here for delicates.
These drawers are somewhat adjustable,
so they can be changed should the need arise.




There is a wall hanger for our mop,
feather duster and dustpan.
I plan on purchasing an over-the-door bracket to
hang our stepstool, which is usually found next to the washer.
Getting things off the floor is one of the most helpful things.
It just makes everything look like it has a place.



It's coming together. 
The feeling I get from having things organized
is one of peace and deep satisfaction. 
It keeps me focused on
being grateful for all I have by taking care
of what I have been blessed with.
It's the intention I plan to pass on...




 
abfolbutton



Thursday, April 28, 2011

Got Heat? No Problem!

I picked up these beauties at the recent
Spring Obsession last month.
What a wonderful idea that turned out to be!


These Florida-friendly plants are thriving in the heat.
With minimal watering and almost full-day sun,
they have already grown three times
the size they were when I bought them a few weeks back.


These will most likely get divided once they stop blooming.
I would love to pair them with something
in the purple or blue family.
Maybe salvia?




The tall spikes of bright yellow blooms
pour out of thick tufts of green foliage.
I'd call them spires of sunshine.



"Characteristics

Bulbine has become a popular plant in Florida because it is drought tolerant, grows well in poor soils, and blooms repeatedly with cheerful flowers that are yellow or orange, depending on the variety. It is suited for gardens in USDA Zones 9-11 and is hardy to the low 20s.

It makes a great ground cover since each plant will grow over time to form a clump that can reach up to four feet wide. This clumping habit also makes bulbine
a great passalong plant.

The succulent, grass-like foliage grows to about a foot tall, while the flower stalks typically reach two feet, dancing above the leaves throughout the summer months."






The foliage alone is amazing.
It reminds me of green pasta.
Maybe it's the Italian in me.



How sweet are those flowers?
We presently only water twice per week,
so I've been checking on these
to see if they needed any supplemental water.
Nope.
When everything else in the garden is sweltering,
these glorious wonders of nature
just keep on blooming and growing.

I'll be looking for more of these at an upcoming garden event.
Next to natives, Florida-friendly is the way to go.
They leave a gardener feeling very satisfied.





Monday, April 25, 2011

Congo Bars (sort of)

When I was a kid, there was one aunt who
used to make these delicious, super-sweet cookie bars.
She called them congo bars.
They were a kid's dream.
Tons of sugar, chocolate, just a chewy delight!


These are a somewhat healthier version of those bars.
They have no sugar, but are just sweet enough.
What I love about these, is that you put them in the oven
and forget about them for 20 minutes or so.
They get even better after refrigeration,
don't ask me why.
Easier than cookies, but just as scrumptious!



Congo Bars
1 1/3 sticks butter
1 C sucanat
2 eggs
1/4 C rice milk
2 t vanilla
1 3/4 C flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 handfuls Sunspire chips
1 handful walnuts or pecans

Cream butter with eggs, milk, vanilla and sucanat.  Set aside.
Place dry ingredients in medium mixing bowl. 
Whisk to aerate.
Add wet to dry and then add chips and nuts.
Spread in an oiled 9 X 13" pan.
Bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
Enjoy!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

File Folder Games

One thing I've figured out over the years as a tutor
is if you make learning fun,
kids will soar in their growth.

These file folder games have been used
many times across many ability levels.
Most of "my" kids have special needs,
but they each need support in a different way.
Comprehension, decoding skills, dyslexia, inference,
writing elements and math phobia
are some of the areas these games help with.
They are a big hit with all of my students.




They require very little effort and few materials.
I use cardstock that I have around the house
for scrapbooking or card making.
You can also use actual file folders
found in any office supply store.





This game helps kids with basic story elements
as well as with distinguishing different types of nouns.





The front cover shows the name of the game
and the skill that is being practiced.





The back cover houses the materials needed
to complete the project.
Double-sided tape holds the baggie onto the back.





Velcro keeps everything in place.
It's not necessary most of the time,
but some kids
(especially kids with autism and/or sensory issues)
benefit from the added
 kinesthetic factor.
This can also help hone fine motor skills.





This particular contraction game allows
the creator to include extra examples
for those students who may need more practice.
Let students come up with new examples.





Math skills can be reinforced through these games as well.
This one would be great for a unit study on marine life.





Directions can be placed opposite the game board,
so that students may work independently, if desired.





Sometimes the directions are on the front...





and both the materials and answer key are on the back.
Kids use the honor system and can practice on their own.





This clock game not only reviews time skills,
but adds reading practice, as the answers are given
both with numbers and words.





Here's one I came up with on my own.
One of my students had difficulty
with the concept of the main idea of the story.
A visual cue was in order.





The directions are displayed on the inside cover.
This game allows for a bit more creativity,
as students are encouraged to use their imaginations
to create a story based on the pictures provided.





Pictures are gathered from magazines or newspapers
and a few phrases are developed to match each photo.
This game can be remade over and over
with new pictures and text.
Again, this one would be great for a themed unit.





What I like about this game is that it is great
for kids who need help with inference.
You can customize this game to the child's current level
and then make it increasingly more challenging
as skills are acquired.





Sometimes you can find gameboards
complete with spinners that are easy to make. 
This game is an introduction to shapes,
but it could be altered in a myriad of ways
depending on subject, area of interest and ability level.





There are many games available to practice grammar skills
like homophones, synonyms, and helping verbs.
This type of game doesn't require a folder,
so I simply place the materials in a baggie
and put a label on it for easy reference.

Most of these games are easy enough to create with
whatever materials you may have at home.


Below is a wonderful resource that I use all the time
to create new games or get inspired.
There are others, but this one is free!
Check it out!


Hope you have some little someone
with whom to share a love of learning!


“I never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
Mark Twain

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Payne's Creek State Park


Payne's Creek is in Bowling Green, just outside of Fort Meade.


What a great day for exploring something new!




The sculptural form of this still life caught my eye.
I love the contrast in color and texture.




Most trails here are unpaved and sandy.




A touch of color here and there helped us remember
that God is the only caretaker needed in this natural setting.


The shallow water was moving surprisingly fast.
The alligator warning signs kept our toes out of the creek.


One of the highlights of this park is the suspension bridge.
We'd never been on one before.
Even the lil' guy (who is sometimes leery of heights)
was willing to venture across.
It shakes, rattles and rolls as you make your way over.
So cool!





Here's the view from the top of the bridge.


Lushness abounds.






The stillness is almost sacred.



It was a clear day. 
And very tropical feeling...


We stopped at the visitor center to get more information.
The air conditioning felt good too!



Inside the main building,
you'll find a replica of what the forts looked like.


Historical relics found on site rest here.


Plenty of places to sit and just take in the serenity...



Can't think of a nicer setting to have a picnic lunch.




We feel blessed to be able to enjoy the wonders of nature
right in our own backyard.