March is National Craft Month, so I would like to start the month with a craft, food craft.

This last weekend was my son’s birthday, and he and my MIL created a cake of his design, a Angry Birds/Lego Star Wars Ice Planet Hoth Cake. It was adorable and he loved it.

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The base was made from marshmallows, piled together like an igloo. Thick white frosting created a blanket of snow, and large pieces of sugar made it shine. Toothpicks were stuck into the lego pieces which were stuck into the cake, allowing them to hover just above the sticky “snow”.

My son created the snow speeder crash landing into the enemy, and my daughter created the rebel flag.

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In keeping with the theme of un-cluttering my clean on the outside, awful on the inside kitchen, this past weekend I tackled my spice cabinet.

Thing 1 and I started by taking everything out, including the shelves. We washed everything, even the spice bottles themselves. Then we started sorting. We threw out old spices, and merged duplicates. They were grouped by their type and use. The result was far less clutter, and easy access to the most used bottles.

Time: About 2 hours.
Cost: $0

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This weekend the National High Magnetic Field Lab had their annual Open House, and it was awesome. It was our first time at the Open House, and we really didn’t expect to see much, other than the 45 Tesla Electro Magnet. What we found was that the entire complex had been set up with different experiments and demonstrations, each designed to get kids interested in science.

Firebeard and Thing 2 visited the Cryogenics Lab and saw the Liquid Nitrogen rocket car, and flash frozen flowers, while Thing 1 and I visited the big magnets in the DC Field Building.

Thing 1 wasn’t very impressed in the world’s largest magnet, because “it looked like a bunch of tubes” (her words), but the other demonstrations in the magnet cells were pretty awesome. She especially like the electric pickle, the cloud made in a bottle, and the thunder tube.

In the end, Thing 1’s favorite part was the exhibit set up by the Sci Girls, a groups of girls just a few years older than her. They were showing the conservation of angular momentum with bike wheels, and making cloud bubbles with dry ice. Thing one didn’t want to leave. It makes me wonder if she will be demonstrating in a few years.

Next year we are planning to go earlier and see some of the demonstrations were didn’t get to see this year, like the MagLev Train in the Applied Superconductivity Center and the hydrogen powered toy car in the center for alternative power systems (Hint, hint, Mag Lag open house organizers). I also hope that next year they will have the robots that Thing 2 was wishing for.

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This weekend I had planned to travel with the kids to New Orleans and celebrate Mardi Gras with my sister. I was going to regale you with all of the interesting sights that Mardi Gras had to offer. Then I got sick, really sick. I couldn’t eat, and I could barely walk for days. Since Mardi Gras was no longer an option, I stayed home with the kids this weekend, and the sights I’ll be sharing this week will instead what I was able to accomplish this weekend in my reduced capacity, and stuff I’ve done previously, but haven’t shared.

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Every year I make my friend, the good doctor, at least one piece of medically inspired embroidery. This year, after my thyroid starting giving me problems, I decided that the thyroid, and it’s immediately adjacent structure, the Larynx, would be my subject matter of choice.

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This piece took me over a month, and probably over 1000 French Knots to create, but I think it was worth it. It is one of my favorite embroidered anatomy pieces to date.

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I have heard before that the clutter in your fridge is predictive of the clutter in your home. If that is the case, then my home was headed for a mess.

While I regularly throw out old leftovers or spoiled veggies, I deep clean my fridge only rarely. This time it was past due for a good scrubbing. It was gross!

In this de-cluttering, I removed everything that could be removed. Everything was scrubbed with soap and water. Then only what was still in date and regularly used was returned to the fridge. Hopefully I’ll get to the freezer soon too.

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We used to let our chickens free range, but then last year nearly all of them were killed by predators. After that we didn’t feel comfortable letting the remaining chickens roam the yard, and we cooped them. They hated it.

Our coop had been designed with free range chickens in mind. It was really only set up to house the chickens at night or during very bad weather. Chickens that are free to roam most of the time really don’t have need of a lot of space inside the coop. When it became necessary to coop our chickens nearly all of the time, it quickly became apparent that our coop was not up to the task.

My Father in Law, who is very good at thinking outside the box (or coop), come up with the solution, and here is the results.

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He enclosed a portion of the exiting poll barn using a combination of chicken wire, metal siding, and salvaged doors and windows. He also connected a 40 foot by 3 foot run to the side accessible by chicken sized sliding door. Since the barn was already wired and plumbed, he also added a fan and heat lamp that can be turned on as needed, and an automatic waterer.

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My favorite part is the people sized double entry doors, which allow easy access to the coop, but not easy escape.

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Here are a few more pics of the cool new coop.

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Today’s post is a bit different than those earlier in the week, in which I simply removed things from a space. Today, I have repurposed a pre existing object to better fit the needs of my family.

This armoire started as a cheap, prefab computer hutch, about 10 years ago. I honestly never though it would last this long but it has. Two or three years ago I decided to make it beautiful again, and transformed it into the green and black beauty you see today. Then I promptly stuffed it full of linens and let is sit next to my front door.

Now the linens are gone, regulated to another closet, the trash, or a charity, and in their place, are the odds and ins that are necessary, and typically in the way.

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As a result of this little project, I was also able to clean out the junk drawer in my kitchen. It had previously held the flashlights, candles, batteries, and light bulbs and was stuffed to the gills. Now I can get to these items much more easily, and my Tupperware has a place to stay.

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I am continuing the theme of Monday’s post, on the impact that simply removing clutter can have on a space. Again, I added nothing, not even paint. Instead I took away the trash and clutter, disposing of it, or putting it in it’s proper place as necessary. Total cost; $0, less than 1 hour.

This weekend I cleaned and organized the entry to my house, not by buying lots of little boxes and bins to put all of my stuff, or a new expensive piece of furniture that housed everything perfectly, but by getting rid of things. This week I will show you how cleaning and removing “stuff” alone can transform a space. We will start today with the front door.

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The debris was thrown in the trash, the pots were emptied of their contents and stored with the rest of the pots. My father in law and daughter used a at home version of a pressure washer to clean the side of the house and side walk. Total cost, $0, 1 hour.

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I like empty surfaces. Empty to the point of barren minimalism. They are free from visual clutter and easy to clean. So, if you were to come to my house on a good day, my kitchen counters would look something like this;

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But lurking below those clutter free countertops is a dirty little secret;

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Terribly cluttered kitchen drawers!

I couldn’t take it anymore. Let the culling begin!

I started by taking everything out of the drawers and placing it on the countertop, grouping like with like the best I could. This is the contents of only two drawers;

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There were 3 can openers, 5 basting brushes, 4 ladles, 2 whisks, at least 8 mixing spoons, and a large assortment of mismatched silverware, and a toothbrush, to name but a few. I culled the trash, the duplicates, and the unused. When I was done, this is what did not renter the drawers;

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I’m pretty happy with the results.