Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bike Box

So, what does our family do without television? We revamp a 7 dollar bike carrier purchased from a garage sale and take The Barracuda for rides.

The true intent of the bike box is to haul around books we want to resell to the used book store, future garage sale finds, or groceries. Previously, we have been limited to hauling whatever we could carry in a messenger bag and it was quite restrictive. However, The Barracuda finds this quite a nice way to travel and we might just put a couple of bike hooks on the back so that his bike can be carried along with him. If we then want to start taking longer bike tours than his little legs can handle, he and his bike can ride in the box.

Friday, June 25, 2010

How to Build a Hanging Dry Rack

Storables calls these hanging dry racks and they know a bit more about it than I do. I'd call it a multi-hanger, but whatever. I use it for all those pesky socks and undies that tend to take up lots of room (and clothespins) on our umbrella clothes line.

Now, 19 clothes pins all fit around the lid of a 5 gallon bucket outfitted with a coat hanger. This way the lid twirls and can dry the socks, undies, hanker chiefs and all the small stuff doesn't take up room for t-shirts and other clothes which need significantly more room.

The fancy "Hanging Dry Rack" at Storables comes with half the clothespins, is metal (rust?) and costs 15.95. Ours has 19 clothes pins, is made of plastic and costs 5.95 maximum. Plastic, in this circumstance, was slightly important because it will not wear out and need replacing with all the rain and summer's extreme sun. We can also easily drill through the plastic to hang the clothes pins.

Materials Needed
Power drill with 1/16th drill bit and a
fine-toothed wood saw
Wire cutters
A pair of pliers

1 package of clothespins (bamboo are the best) $2.50 for 50 pins
1 5 gallon bucket lid $ .99 (@ Home Depot)
1 metal clothes hanger (from the closet, but available at the Dollar Store or dry cleaners)
19 little ring fobs (see below) $1.52 from the lock and key store

Jules is assembling all the parts for these hangers and comes out with "We need to find ring fobs." I had no idea what he was talking about (nothing new when assembling things). Am I the only one who has never heard this term? We do crossword puzzles together and he always knows the weirdest stuff. A ring fob is basically the O that your keys are all hooked to. I always called it a key ring...little did I know. If you buy the ring fobs at Home Depot, Bi-Mart, or Kroger you are going to pay a TON! We found ours at the local lock and key. They were only 8 cents a piece, and are the rinky-dink, little ones you get when a key is made. They had multiple sizes and we chose the smallest (about 1 inch in diameter).


Using the 1/16th bit, drill a hole though half of the pinching end of the clothes pin.

Thread one ring fob through the hole. Using a fine-toothed, wood saw, cut off about 1 centimeter of the other lever of the clothes pin. You cut the end off so that when you pinch the pin open, it isn't limited by the ring fob.

Repeat. A lot. This is annoying and tedious. A butter knife can save your fingernails and enlisting help can make everyone frustrated and lessen the personal burden of ridiculous frustration.

Using the 1/16 bit, drill holes 2 inches a part all along the lip of the 5 gallon bucket. Cutting a spacer out of index card works really well, or you could just wrap a tape measure around and mark every two inches with a Sharpie. Switch to the 1/4 bit and drill a hole through the center of the lid.

Cut the wire coat hanger 4 inches on each side of the hook. Use the pliers to straighten the sides and bend the hook of the coat hanger fairly straight.

Thread the straightened hook through the center hole of the lid. Once through, bend the hook back into a hook. Turn the lid over and flatten the ends against the plastic.

Thread the ring fobs through the holes drilled around the lip of the lid and you've got yourself a hanging dry rack!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Bucket List

In honor of Melynda at Your Wild Child, here is our summer bucket list:

  1. Show the Barracuda how to find a few constellations and spend some time stargazing
  2. Road trip across the country
  3. See the Sequoias and watch the Barracuda's amazement at just how big nature is and how small we are
  4. Cut 5 cords of wood
  5. Kill the dryer permanently
  6. Spend more time with my guitar
  7. Get the book proposal outlined and started
  8. Read My Side Of the Mountain while we camp out
  9. Figure out next years curriculum
What do you want to accomplish before summer is over?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ways to Lower Your Grocery Bill: Putting Back

When I first wanted to figure out a way to lower our grocery bill I hit the Internet with grand expectations. Lots of articles were found but all they said was "buy a canner and start canning" or "buy items in bulk" or "learn to cook." I was left wondering what to can, how much to buy in bulk, what should I learn to cook first. As much as the articles meant well, they didn't honestly do much other than give me general ideas. With that in mind, I thought I'd let you all in on the ways we have found worked well. This is just us, but it has also worked well for two friends of ours who were drowning in a tough economy and rising food prices.

The largest way we have found to lower our grocery bill is through setting back quantities of many items so they no longer need to be purchased. We began this with meat when I first bought our pressure canner and a week later all natural chicken went on sale for 99 cents a pound. One hundred dollars of my tax return became canned chicken and chicken stock. This set the ball in motion for our pattern of stocking up. Even when things aren't on sale, small measures go a long way.

First to think about is what to put back? We go with things which ---

1. Do not require many storage requirements. The don't need the electricity of a freezer or fridge, they don't take a ton of space, they are dry or can be packaged so they won't leak.

2. We will never stop needing or regularly using it. Even if the power goes out, even if we decide to move, even if we get snowed in, even if we make a radical lifestyle change, even if zombies attack or one of us becomes abducted by aliens we will still be wanting or needing the product.

3. It costs a lot of money every month for what you get. This seems to fall right in line with the fact that you are always using it regardless of other circumstances. They see you coming and those business guys aren't dumb. Meat is up on the list, cleaners are high on the list, toiletries, most canned goods, fruits, spices, etc. By making these items yourself and packaging them up, you can cut out the middle man and the price drops dramatically.

The example which seems to work the best is laundry soap (and we just happened to be packaging it the other day).

1) When you make the detergent, it only has three main parts (soap, Borax, and washing soda) and all of them are dry with no shelf life.

2) You use it every week rain, shine, tidal wave, zombie attack, alien abduction, what have you and even if you decided to become Amish tomorrow you would still need it. Let's face it, even the Amish wear clean clothes and you don't want blood stains when those Zombies are coming.

3)Laundry soap costs upwards of 10 dollars for the relatively small amount of soap you get. It is quite a racket they've got going. When you make it yourself it costs pennies for what you get.

Next, you need to have an idea of how much you use on average.

When I make one batch of laundry soap, it lasts us for 2 months of normal use. I monitored our usage for about six months to make sure I had a pretty good idea and then just called it good. With something which is used more frequently, like say meat, you can calculate how much is used in a week rather than month long increments.

Now, break out the calculator! Don't worry it isn't crazy math.

Take the amount you use X how many increments happen in one year

If 1 batch of laundry soap lasts our family for two months, how much do we need for 1 year?

1 batch X 6 increments = 6 batches a year

To use tuna as an example: If you eat 3 cans of tuna a week, how many will you need for 1 year?

3 cans X 52 increments = 156 cans per year

We use a year as the length of time to stock up because it means we never have to think about putting it on the grocery list. If you have a years worth of tuna fish, you're sitting pretty good. If you want to become a survivalist and just keep on stacking up cans, more power to you! We feel a years is probably pretty decent.

Start by buying small.
Now that you know how many you will need, buy a few each time you go to the store. Don't burn yourself out. If you drop the money not only is it a really large monetary hit, but it also means packaging time that most families don't have. This is supposed to be a stress reliever not magnifier. We figure on spending only $10-$15 extra on the stockpiled item each month. Ten bucks is usually doable even on a tight budget.

It is important to remember this is extra added on to what you would normally consume. So, we buy 7 Naptha bars and one box of Borax and 1 box of Washing soda each month. That is about 12-15 dollars and gives us 2 years of laundry soap. In one month, we no longer have to buy any laundry soap for two years. If you are paying 10 bucks a month for soap, you just saved $230 by spending only $10 and making it yourself.

Since you no longer have to spend the $10 on laundry soap each month, you can roll it over into back stocking another purchase -- dish soap -- and keep the ball rolling. It initially took us about 6 months to really see a difference, but the savings become exponential.

Our list went something like this: Laundry Soap, Dishwasher soap, hand soap, bananas, peaches, pears, spaghetti sauce, soup, stock and tuna fish.

These 10 items have cut at least 50 or 60 dollars (though mostlikely more) from our food bill each month. Stop buying them over and over in favor of canning them or packaging them yourselves (other than tuna). These items are all canned or packaged dry so that I can add the water later and rehyderate.

Living in 900 square feet, space is at a premium. When this first began we wondered where on earth we would put everything. However, if you begin buying in bulk and creating things from scratch the cupboards begin to thin out at an amazing rate. I had no idea just how much space packaging takes, but it is a TON! Large quantities of backstock (like bulk rice or chicken stock) live in our root cellar in 5 gallon buckets or on the canning shelves we built. The garage is also a great place to store back stocked items.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Published Articles

The list is getting a bit crazy as articles are now flying out at quite a rapid pace. I'm only going to post the ones from for the time being since the list is getting large. There are a few AOL articles which are pending publication, but they never tell me how long that takes. One has been purchased, but sitting for over a month! When I finally find out, I'll put them up.
How to Set Up a Rainwater Collection System Part 1 and Part 2
How to use Wire Cutters
Solar versus Wind Power Benefits
Getting the Most Out of Your Small Wind Turbine
All About the Hydraulic Pump
How To Refill A Chalk Line
Home Sustainability - Phantom Loads
Green Gardening - Saving Seeds
Why Native Landscaping is Extremely Beneficial
Green Gardening - Beginning an Organic Garden
Organic Lawn Care - When to Fertilize
Five Common Causes of Salt Water Pool Filter Damage
3 Tips for Repairing a Broken Staple Gun
3 Tips for Maximizing the Life of Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
5 Ice Axe Safety Tips
Pros and Cons of Argon Gas Windows
How Does a Heated Car Seat Work?
6 Advantages of Using Treated Lumber
Why Use an Auxiliary Adapter?
Troubleshooting an Electric Mirror

I will say one thing, my typing as certainly gotten a bit faster!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pulling Off The Consumer Grid

Garage Sale season is here! Jules gets slightly excited when he sees the first real sign of the year declaring a yard or estate sale. He has an ever-so-tiny obsession with perusing other peoples unwanted stuff. I cannot blame him considering it has completely obliterated our need to shop anywhere else. Most every Saturday and Sunday there is a detour from wherever we are going to head for a yard sale. And, why not? Most of our household items, clothes, tools, gear and other awesome stuff have come directly from local Estate sales. One better, they are cheap and going to be throw away.

One of the unforseen things which has happened in our quest for self sufficiency is our pulling off the consumer grid. Before this, I wouldn't have really known anything about the consumer grid. Even now, that is just the name I have given it; whether there is another name I do not know. By consumer grid, I mean shopping at The Store. Not one specific store, but just shopping at any store in general. We do not feel that shopping is inherently bad, more that the way the United States approaches shopping (evaluation of GDP as all things important) is insidious, malicious, and down right evil.

The GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, is how the United States measures the economy and thus, our status as a nation. The idea was adopted in 1991. (Before that status and progress were measured by various other factors like unemployment, the price of a dollar globally, inflation, etc.) In definition Gross Domestic Product looks like this:

The total market value of all final goods and services produced in a country in a given year, equal to total consumer, investment, and government spending, plus the value of exports, minus the value of imports.

Basically, the GDP covers all money changing hands in our nation. In a perfect world, you would record you garage sale earnings on your taxes (because we all do that) and eBay earnings (every one of us declares those as well) and any of the under-the-table work (that none of us ever participate in) because money is changing hands. The more times a dollar changes hands, the higher the GDP. So if my dollar goes through 3 people when I buy a pair of shoes (a cut to the big box store, then a cut to the distributor, and finally to the company) it is much better than if it goes directly to the company itself. Specialization, middle men, big box stores, and a loss of all traceability from source is what results. This is an admittedly, massively oversimplified explanation.

In the United States, growth in GDP is all that matters. More money needs to keep changing hands. This concept disturbs both Jules and I enormously. If the entire status of our nation and our progress is hinged on how much more people are spending, then why would anyone conserve anything? (Economists will even admit the fastest way to grow GDP is during crisis - HOW CREEPY IS THAT!)

We finally asked ourselves, "Why not just find the source?" Amazingly, it wasn't that hard.
The best part has been watching our sense of urgency, our stress level, and our concept of need changing. You cannot urgently go pick something up from a garage sale. You cannot rush by the farm on the way home from work and then speed home with an insta-dinner. Rhubarb just isn't going to be around in August and Strawberries aren't going to appear in January. Often, going to the source is not one stop shopping. There is patience and waiting involved, and in that time you realize there isn't much you really need like you thought. Community life and living are deliberate acts of slowing down, paring down, and evaluating.

To some not knowing where you "stuff" comes from isn't an issue, but to others they may have never considered it before. A year ago, we sure hadn't thought about our stuff or what it did to our lives. Amazingly, it was everything we were trying to fill the house with that was creating the void in the first place.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Family Read Aloud Childrens Classic Lit List

In the summer our family does many things, but the major one is that we read. And we read. And we read. We read to each other. We read separately. Sometimes the whole family will be in the living room silently reading their own books. We go to bookstores and buy books to read. We listen to authors talk about books we have read. We read in the park, outside in the front yard, or down at the beach. We read at home, in Georgia, and on the airplane in between. There are books in every room of our house and we frequently take large bundles to sell back to the used bookstore for credit. It was never planned this way; it just sorta happened.

The Barracuda taught himself to read at three. It is very scary to have your child just start reading things out of nowhere without any formal instruction into even letters. "Zoo" was his first read word. Soon after we started writing out, coloring, and placing three sight words a week the Barracuda's walls at his request. Then he wanted 5 a week. Then he wanted 10 a week. Then the list wasn't needed anymore he was just reading everything. Jules developed a game where they would use a long, Lego pointer to pick out words off the walls and make silly sentences. They would play long into bedtime. Shortly after, I started reading classic children's novels to The Barracuda and he got his first library card. We haven't ever looked back.

The experience of being able to discuss a book with your child and make connections to life is one that I can't imagine living without and one I would encourage most parents to attempt. When I looked for a classic children's lit book list of high interest read-aloud books there weren't many to find anywhere. There were lots of kid's classic lit lists which were short books and there were lots for kids who could read by themselves, but not many family read alouds. So here is our family's read aloud list. These are whole family, high interest, read aloud books which parents don't avoid like the plague. (If you are at the point of never wanting to read another book with talking animals, this might be the list for you!)

Beginning Books
Winnie the Pooh series by A.A. Milne
The narrator cuts in a few times in these books which can be a bit confusing as a read aloud. We skipped the narrations easily and made the book much more readible. The stories are incredible and worth it.

Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
Voices are great for this one.

Stuart Little by E.B. White
Short chapters make this an ideal before-bed book.

The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This is the quintessential girl book. I haven't even bothered reading it to my son, he would careless. But even as a tomboy, I LOVED this book. I would still read it over and over as an adult if I owned a copy.

Continuing Reads
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Some older English words, but my son still LOVED it

All of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Don't stop after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. They get SO much better! These are action packed, about kids doing cool stuff, and FULL of moral values to discuss. There are significant religious undertones (which are not subtle for an adult) but they completely flew over my head as a kid and my son is clueless about them.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'dell
A chick book to balance out a few of the boy reads. Boys might get into it, but don't feel bad stopping if their eyes begin to gloss over. For girls this strong heroine will balance out the Disney Princesses.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Admittedly a bit of a "boy" book, but many girls will love the concept too and the author is a girl. This is now a trilogy, but we have only read the first one.

Hatchet by Gary Larson
Another slightly "boy" book, but I thought it was amazing when I read it the first time and my son finds it just as riveting.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
This was the book that sold Jules on reading. He was about 7 and later decided to become an English teacher due to a love of reading. Younger kids you might need to help along with the plot subtleties a bit, but the action and moral questions are worth it.

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
Great moral questions in this classic adventure tale. A very good one to discuss with kids some hard questions about right and wrong, appropriate choices, and explain why they thing certain choices were right or wrong.

The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Don't worry, I promise the dog doesn't die. I was waiting the entire book for the dog to die, ripping both my and the child's guts out and leaving us sobbing. You totally fall in love with this dog.

Rascal by Sterling North
A unique story of a boy and his dog, only the dog is a raccoon.

Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
My favorite quote in all of literature is from the Velveteen Rabbit. Be prepared parents, this book is so well written, poignant, and beautiful you may want to pre-read a section with a box of tissues. Kids won't be effected as much of the beauty comes from experience. They will see a wonderful story about toys.

Be sure to drop a comment on any which might have been missed or ones we should look into. I love the classical questions and timeless stories. When compiling this list, Jules and I got into differing ideas and questions like "What happened with Buck and the Indians at the end of Call of the Wild?" (we both had differing ideas, he was right) or "What did The Man In The Yellow Hat in Curious George do for a living?" (we were both wrong). They had to be Googled. Those are the types of things I want my son to get out of books. I want him to know the timeless classics so he can have bizarre conversations and friendly debates with others as he gets older. I want him to be able to relate to literature in hopes of finding some answers for himself to tough life questions.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Published Articles

Another set of articles if any of you all out there are curious about things like Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Toe Kick Heaters. I must say, the best thing about this job is being able to learn all kinds of stuff I didn't even know that I didn't know.

What is a Solar Attic?
How to Prevent a Clogged Garbage Disposal
How to Remove a Tail Light
What is a NiCad Battery?
Kitchen Cabinet Finishes: Paint vs. Stain
Advantages of A Toe Kick Heater
Trouble Shooting Toe Kick Heater Problems
Hydrogen Fuel Storage: Charles' Law and Boyle's Law
How Does A Hydrogen Fuel Cell Work
5 Household Applications for A Hydrogen Fuel Cell
5 Best Uses for SuperGlue
I have recently been asked to become the Natural Family Living Examiner for our area. My job is to highlight local events, businesses, people, and news of interest to Natural Family Living and blog about it during the week. Even if you are not local to the area, I'm attempting to make the information as universal as possible to all Natural Families. If anyone else is interested in this sort of blogging/reporting/highlighting of local life (in any topic and most locations) drop me a comment and I can follow up with you. It is something I am really enjoying and most anyone with an interest in writing and community would love.

U-Pick Strawberries (includes a no pectin jam recipe)
Hello All (introduction of myself and how our family started natural living)
Local Book Events (3 Newly Released Books)
Barefoot Home (Awesome book about Natural Living Architecture)
Limbo Bulk Herbs (includes Horehound cough syrup recipe)
Fittest Cities in the U.S.

The Homemaking Cottage

This is a subscription website. That is why I haven't mentioned it before. The woman and the organization are good ones, so if you want to check it out go ahead. Again, I don't get anything if you sign up or if you click or anything. I think it is 10 bucks a month.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Target Practice

So what does our family do without television? We practice our aim with a cork gun and the lid of a 5 gallon bucket.

The Barracuda has only ever seen one real gun in his entire life. Jule's used it to show him exactly what a gun is and how to be careful when handling a firearm. But, we do have guns in our house. They are locked up and unloaded, however it is important The Barracuda knows how to appropriately use a firearm if we own them (especially if we are going to move to the middle of no where and hunt). Recently he acquired his very own Daisy Red Rider BB gun to begin learning. Grampa stepped in with a much better idea by purchasing a cork gun a garage sale. It has been very helpful with our wet weather.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

United States, Here We Come!

All year long we save our change, bits of my tip money, and tax returns for our only major vacation - 3 weeks in the deep south. This year, it looked like that trip may not happen. Even when we flew into an out of the way airport, even when flying into the deep south in the middle of July, even having multiple lay overs, airfare was almost 200 dollars more per person this year. We just plain cannot swing that.

Out came the calculator. Numbers were crunched. Over-estimates in cost were made and numbers were re-crunched just to be sure. We would have to camp. We could mail ourselves hiker boxes and then not need to eat out as much. My car would need a new radio so we didn't kill each other. But we could see Yosemite; we could see the Sequoias; we could see the Tetons and New Orleans. We do short hikes across the United States and show our son a respect for the beauty of all different ecology. It was settled, we're roadtripping it!

You see, Jules' people live in Georgia. The problem is we live about as far from Georgia as you can get and still stay in the continental United States. The trip is an essential part of our lives, bit it is a bit like visiting another planet.

Jules' people are they are very Southern and very Georgia. I do not mean that in a bad way. In fact, I kinda love Georgia. I mean it as the simplest illustration tool I could think of to explain the contrast.

We are very Pacific Northwest. The last time we visited just stepping off the plane you could see people react. "I aint never seen no white girl with dreads [dreadlocked hair] before," was a phrase I became very used to. "Boy, is that your real hair?" was asked of the Barracuda's screaming-blue mohawk at least a dozen times. In the summer I believe in wearing the smallest item which could possibly pass as a shirt (many of which tie on) and Jules wore shorts to church (appalling even me). The Barracuda sports his dashiki as well as very loud plaid shorts. He rocks both of them pretty dang hard.

Rural Georgia wasn't quite ready for us. In all honesty, I wasn't quite ready for rural Georgia.

I think my favorite part was the picture we now have of Jules and The Barracuda at the Georgia Mountain Fair sporting inflatable AK 47's decorated like American flags while kneeling in front of a large Confederate Flag giving me the "Thumbs Up." Both the AK-47s and the large Confederate Flag wall hanging were prizes which
children could win. Families were lined up to try. The sheer incredulous amazement warranted a picture.

We have repeatedly survived Georgia.
A couple near misses with food poisoning, my complete loss of faith as an environmentalist, The Barracuda informing us about "our Savior Jesus, the beloved Son of God," and having to explain discrimination to a 4 year old have been slight set backs. The South definitely approaches the world differently and they tend to raise children a bit differently too, but that isn't a bad thing. Our son called out one of his friends for racist comments at 5 years old, my views of environmentalism and preservation have been fortified, I have seen the other side of some very complicated U.S. History that I never learned as a Yankee kid.

At this point, I think we are starting to approach it as "what will this year bring!?" If anything, we are building story line and characters for a novel.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

How To Build A Firewood Box

All the firewood used this year has really done a number on our floors. In one corner of the living room we would pile up the wood to be burned for the evening so we didn't have to skip out in the freezing temperatures to get another few logs. It worked really well for us. Not so much for the floors....

The living room corner which holds our small wood pile had a completely differently colored floor. The pitch and wood sap left quite a film to collect dirt and debris. After being attacked with the wood floor cleaner the floor quickly came clean again, but brutalizing the house wasn't quite what we had in mind when we wanted to simplify. So out Jules went to build a firewood box.

3 inch wood screws
2 inch wood screws
Power Drill
2 - 2x4x10's or a pile of 2 x4 scrap
1 sheet of plywood
4 felt non scratch bottoms (like you put on table legs)

All you are really doing is building two identical squares out of 2x4 and connecting them. Measure the floor space you are wanting the box to fit into. Now subtract 1 inch from the length and width. Make two identical squares out of 2x4's. Secure the squares with 3 inch wood screws

To connect the square, measure the height you wish for the box to be. Now subtract 8 inches. Cut 4 identical 2 x 4 pieces. Place each board on a corner between the two squares and attach with 3 inch wood screws. Now you have a box.

Use your original measurements (no subtracting) to cut the plywood pieces. You should have:

1 piece the size of the floor space for the box to fit in (Length x Width)
2 pieces the size of the height and one side of the floor (Length x Height)
2 pieces the size of the height and the other side of the floor (Width x Height)

The reason you subtracted an inch from the original measured squares is to allow for plywood sides on the box. Take each plywood piece and mount it to the box with the 2 inch wood screws. Be careful not to hit the screws you have already used.

Once the sides are all in place, you need to sand down the all edges and the plywood. Due to being inside and having heavy use, we didn't much want splinters.

Once the box has been sanded, flip it up on the side so that the bottom is exposed. Screw in the felted scuff stoppers to each corner before painting.

Now you can paint or stain your box any color you want. We went with the same color as our walls so that the large box tends to blend right in and not seem so intrusive. Be sure that you also paint the inside at least to cover the top 2x4's since you will see that part when you look at the box across the room. Jules opted to paint the inside of the whole thing.

As you can see, The Barracuda is now required to help with household projects as much as he possibly can without Jules or I wanting to strangle him. In example, he did not get to paint because the patio would never have been the same. This direct working with tools, building, and planting have become essential parts of his homeschooling and math curriculum.

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