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Friday, January 20, 2012

Corvallis flooding, January 2012

Drove into town today. Sick of the rain and all that water around the house. Town looked much better, well drier anyway. Went to check on a friend who had earlier been filling sand bags, fortunately the water in the stream behind their house had receded and all was well. They had taken footage of the stream in full flood and it looked pretty impressive. Still it seemed to be back to normal and business as usual.
Our house has water kind of all around. The back paddock is flooded right up to our door step. The poor old water trough (which was full and just out the garden gate), has long floated away. We have water up to the side pavers and flowing by the kitchen. One of the half rounds from alongside the driveway has been swept up and away.
Today our bridge was very popular. There is a river monitoring station by our house and the monitoring people were here all day. They returned at the end of the day and called out a hello while I was standing out back. It was one of the guys we had met a couple of years ago when we first moved in here. He said they had people coming by all day saying they had lived here all their lives and never seen it like this. I think that is why it took them so long to gather their data. At one stage there were at least half a dozen cars lined up and out jumped all these photographers. We were quite the freak show.
Anyway, the kids have just discovered is closed, the entire district is closed tomorrow due to the flooding. Apparently there are a heap of roads with excess water, and about half a dozen that are closed altogether. Talk about celebrations at our house. They truely do think they have won the lottery.
Just one problem, Reagan, who wore her gumboots to school today and raced to wheel the wheelie bin through all the puddles this afternoon (for tomorrow mornings early rubbish pick up) has just discovered that one of her boots has a hole! But I want to go play in the puddles! So this is the only major emergency - can we fix her gumboots so she can indulge in a bit of puddle jumping tomorrow?
Watching traffic go down our road is just like watching tv - we can see quite a way down where the road is flooded. Lots of vehicles plow through, some stop, many turn around. Lots of lights flashing, cars turning all over the place. I think I would be a turn around girl myself. Wouldn't like to plunge into flood water in the dark. I don't think half of them would even see where the road was at this stage, its so murky.
We are presently on water conservation, not so much consumption of, just not flushing the toilet too often or taking long showers etc. The house owner said the only thing to worry about is the septic tank. With the flooding it might just not handle things. I must confess to being the worst offender in the house. I flush and then realise what I have done. Must pay more attention!
Fortunately we woke to receding water. Let's see what the day brings in terms of rain. Trust the sun is shining in your slice of paradise. Desray

Monday, January 9, 2012

10 year old daughters birthday "spa" party

Took a rest from painting and coffee trivets to plan and impliment our daughters 10th birthday party. Many ideas were discussed including a bowling party, hiring the local swim pool, horse riding etc. What won the day was a spa party involving making bath bombs/fizzies, face masks, cleopatra bath salts, body glitter, nail polish and makeup. There was stuff I bought that wasn't really necessary, when you are reading through recipes etc on the net, people add a lot of extras. I will list the basic recipes we used further on. The end result was a lot of fun had be everyone, plenty of smiles, lots of laughter.

Thinking that the girls would whisk through each moment at pace, I figured that two hours would be good. Probably all I would be able to cope with and plenty enough for them. Wrong. Ten year old girls enjoy the process as much as older girls. They are of an age where naming and decorating a simple paper bag becomes a work of love. So three hours would have been more likely.

There were some great photo opportunities too, so keep your camera at the ready. The other thing is a bit of back up. Fortunately my wonderful husband and our 13 year old son were fantastic. They assisted clearing the table, wiping up spilt ingredients and general handing out of what ever was needed - paper towels, wipes, drinks etc. These two guys were worth their weight in gold, they were great.

I gathered a lot of the basic info from the internet and am grateful for it all being available. Having something the girls can do while waiting for everyone to turn up was a wonderful idea. Each participant was invited to bring their bath robe and slippers for comfort. This is how the order of events went;
1. Write name on/decorate a paper lunch bag - we weren't having goody bags full of candy/lollies, however the girls were making things and the bags were a good way for them to transport these home. I did find some very pretty face cloths, adding one to each bag before they left.
2. Bath fizzy's
3. Face masks
4. Cleopatra's bath salt
5. Body glitter
6. Make up
7. Nails
8. Afternoon tea and cake

The girls worked in pairs, and were very caring about sharing. This quantity produced one sizeable bath bomb per girl or three small ones. The golden rule is to always keep mixing while adding ingredients and break up lumps that form.
1/4 cup citric acid
1/2 cup baking soda
1/5 to 1/4 teaspoon food colouring (liquid or powder form)
4 drops of essential oil
Water in spray bottles (they don't need much water)

In a bowl, mix together citric acid and baking soda. Make sure they are well mixed.
Add the food colouring - stir while adding and break up any lumps
Add essential oil drops - stir while adding and break up any lumps
Start off with 4 sprays of water - stir while adding and break up any lumps, then continue with 2 sprays each time stirring well. Squeeze the mixture to check if it is holding a shape or not.

This is the tricky part, you only want enough water to hold the mixture when it is squeezed in your hand. Too much and it will not hold a shape. Don't despair if it gets a little too wet. Place your mixture in a recycled container (such as a yoghurt or fruit cup container) lined with plastic wrap and leave to dry. Remove when dry - it takes an hour or two.

What a delightful acitivity. Delicious ingredients, lots of fun and laughter with this one. When you have 10 girls applying face masks, you will find that a fair amount lands on the floor! Perhaps a towel laid at their feet will save a bit of work and can be shaken out later. The girls create their own face mask from the ingredients presented.
Ingredients begin with;
1 Tablespoon of Clay - we used Redmond Clay as our base, purchased from Market of Choice (about $8), I'm certain there will be something similar in pharmacies, natural food stores. One 10oz/283g container for 11 girls and we still have a little over half a container left for future face masks.
1 teaspoon plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon well mashed avocado (1 large avocado was enough, although they would have used more if it was available)
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon camomile tea
1/2 teaspoon oatmeal
1 teaspoon olive oil
flat wooden stirring stick
jar or zip lock bag to mix ingredients in.
thin cucumber slices
wipes/towlettes/handy towels
a rubbish/trash container handy

Begin with their choice of ingredients and adjust for consistency and spreadability. Use the wooden stirring sticks to mix and then to apply to ones face (avoiding the eye area). Adjourn to comfy seats, sit back and relax while the mask does its job (10 to 20 minutes). Each girl enjoyed a drink and lollipop while relaxing with a slice of cucumber placed on each eye.
When ready, discard or nibble cucumber, they can also taste the face mask as it is all natural too, then clean off and feel how soft your skin is. Delightful.

Known for her beauty and for bathing in milk, Cleopatra was the last pharoah/ruler/queen of Egypt. As one participant remarked, when we bath in it we will be beautiful - too late, they are already beautiful.
Ingredients - mix in zip lock bag for portability;stir while adding and break up any lumps
1 cup milk powder (cleansing)
1/2 cup epsom salt (relaxing)
1/4 cup baking soda (detoxifying)
once well mixed, add 4 drops of essential oil and mix again.
Make up a label with ingredients, name etc. This quantity will be sufficient for two baths.

BODY GLITTER There are some lovely, little, inexpensive, lip balm sized screw top containers available from craft stores, in the jewellery containers section. I found a pack of 30 approximately 1"diameter by 1" tall or 2.5cm diameter by 2.5cm tall screw top containers for approx $6. Enough for the girls to make two lots of body glitter each, one silver and one gold.
Aloe Gel - one 6oz/70g tube was plenty for 11 girls, this is dependant on container size.
Fine glitter - in your choice of colours, we used silver and gold. We have large containers of it, smaller ones would have been more than sufficient. A little glitter goes a loooooong way.
tooth pick for mixing
screw top containers
Tiny label stickers, or paper that girls write on then cellotape to their containers in place of labels.

Fill each little container 1/2 to 3/4 full of Aloe Gel, and stir in 1/2 a teaspoon of glitter. Mix well and it is ready to use. Apply sparingly to forhead, cheeks, arms for that added glimmer. Thicker applications give a more visible sparkle.

As I said earlier, two hours wasn't enough, we spilled over for another 1/2 hour so that we might have our cake and eat it too, parents seemed relaxed and happy to chat. We never made it to the nail painting, make up applying stage. The plan is to invite each of the party participants home on a play date, one at a time, to indulge in nail painting and makeup. There are inexpensive (approx $2 to $3) nail art lacquers available for applying decorations on top of nail colour. Flowers, stripes, initials, patterns all look beautiful and are much admired by the girls. If you google images for eye make up looks, you will find some lovely, arty, dramatic, outlandish eye make up ideas for the girls to try. We also have some no tears, natural eye makeup remover that is very helpful.

A fun filled two hours, one very happy birthday girl who was full of love and appreciation for her day. What a lovely reward. This was a great birthday party. May yours be just as wonderful, Desray

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Saving the day and the tiles!

Well as you know, my first lot of coasters were a botch job. After I had discovered that they marked with the weight and heat of a cup of coffee, I tried spraying them with a clear gloss sealant that is heat resistant to 200 degrees F.

That sounds all good and dandy, however after the second coat something happened. It wrinkled, leaving the coasters looking like they were textured and me disappointed. I was especially disappointed as I had been so confident,  making 30 coasters in all, with cork backings in place, and here they were all wrinkled to varying degrees. The other problem encountered is that the surface still scratched and they were smelly even after a week.

I am thinking an inconsistent temperature when spraying them was responsible for the wrinkles - it is winter the temperature of the room did fluctuate, perhaps at a particularly important moment.......back to the drawing board....

While scouring the internet for answers, I came across one person who had read an inquiry about making heat resistant coasters and then read a seperate article about High Temp Caliper Paint which is not only heat resistant to 900 degrees F, it is also scratch resistant. They kindly placed the two bits of info in the same spot - a welcome bit of knowledge for me.

So where to get the Caliper paint from. I visited a couple of auto part stores to no avail. One of them was able to locate some, however it was on the other side of the USA and somewhat in the too hard basket. They did however recommend I go to an automotive paint specialist, who was able to track down four cans in the next state of which two arrived first thing the next morning. Exciting.

This spray is pretty quick and easy to apply. However many coats you apply, they all need to be done within an hour. Well that sure does save the day, within one hour it is all over and done with, great! Then you wait, 7 days then all that is left is curing. Curing takes the form of baking in an oven for one hour at 200 degrees F, that is one of the lowest settings on our oven just above warm.

This time I was a little more thoughtful, and only made two tiles. The first I mod podged the picture on, the second I tried to use the spray to adhere the picture to the tile. Using the spray as an adhesive and sealant did not work, it was fine until the curing process whereby it all lifted off the tile. The second tile turned out beautifully.

The final result is a heat and scratch resistant surface that has very little or no odor. Now the only minor problem, and I don't think I will bother trying to solve it, is that the picture is ever so slightly yellowed. For me it is inconsequential. I have success, so far so good.

Happy new year, make it the best year you possibly can. Enjoy, Desray

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