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Archive for August, 2009

I just wanted to share an interesting link from the American Library Association. They track books that have recently been challenged or banned. This map has links from all over the country.  Most of the links I clicked on indicate that the books were not banned, even with plenty of pressure from various “advocacy” groups and overprotective parents, so there is still hope.

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So, last night I sat down to read our local paper. They had a wonderful, full-page article all about the local rescue organization here in town. The owner also works with the local pet shop, the dog training place, and the doggie daycare, so we are very familiar with all of her wonderful work.

The article was very informative about the rescue, and it included some information about where these rescue dogs come from – most from people who give up their dogs for various reasons.

So, the author of that article also wrote a personal column in this paper. In it, she explained how she and her husband were looking for a new apartment and were “not able to find a nice one that accepts dogs”, so they are currently trying to find a new home for their 5-year old lab that “they love very much”.

Talk about a slap in the face! I mean, seriously? You just interviewed this rescue organization that takes in the dogs that idiots like you give up!

Don’t you worry. The crazy dog lady came to the rescue. I sent a very nice, informative email to this “journalist”, explaining how disgusted and appalled I was that she could even consider dumping her dog after writing that article. And for such a pathetic reason. Maybe she failed to see the connection between all the dogs the local rescue is currently trying to save (not to mention the millions of dogs that are sitting in shelters and rescues across this country) and the dog she is about to dump. I was just trying to help her see that connection.

And you know what? I don’t care if that makes me crazy. It was worth it.

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DIY Art

I saw these signs floating around the web world on Etsy last year. Most of them were selling for around $30.00. I stole the idea and just made my own sign, for about $10.00.

sign

Supplies:
Wood sign – $3.00. I purchased mine at Goodwill – it was an old wooden sign with a rooster on it that had some goofy slogan. You can also find plain wood signs at Michael’s or other craft stores.
Black craft paint & tan craft paint – $5.00
Fabric tracing paper – $1.50

How to:
1. Paint the sign black, or any color you choose.
2. I created the letters using Microsoft Word. I just enlarged them over several pages and cut and taped the paper together.
3. Next I laid the tracing paper down over the wood, and taped my letters on top. Trace over the letters with a pencil, and the tracing will appear on the wood.
4. Paint over the tracing using your tan paint, or any color you choose.

Don’t worry if your lines look shaky. You won’t be able to tell once it’s up on the wall.

door sign

I made one of these signs as a gift last year for some friends, and it was even cheaper since I already had the paint and the tracing paper. So, what do you guys think? Have you seen these signs in people’s houses? Is this trend going out?

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Wisconsin State Fair

I know the blog updating has been a little slow lately. We don’t have many house projects going on right now – but don’t worry, we have plenty on the horizon.

The Wisconsin State Fair is going on this week, and Matt and I took a trip down there with his family. It’s been a few years since I have been to the fair, but nothing has changed. They still have the animal barns, they still have the racing pigs, and of course, they still have the food.
racing-pigs

Photo Courtesy of Michael Newman

Sadly, no one in our party tried the chocolate-covered bacon. It just sounded way too gross for me. We had plenty of other food and beer to go around though.

So, tell me oh loyal readers, what is your favorite part of the fair?

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The-Book-Thief-AU-coverIt’s just a small story really, about, amongst other things:
a girl
some words
an accordionist
some fanatical Germans
a Jewish fist-fighter
and quite a lot of thievery.

I will start by saying that if you ever read any books that I recommend on this blog or in person, please let this book be it. It’s a truly beautiful story, with wonderful characters that I will never forget.

From the back cover:
It is 1939, Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel Meminger’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up and closed down. 

This book is a story about words. The power of words. The beauty of words. And it is narrated by Death, who sees moments through shades of color. I can’t really spoil anything in this story for you, because Death provides enough foreshadowing thoughout the book that you know who is going to die before it even happens.  But for some reason, it works. I guess the reason being that even though you know death is going to happen, it’s still a shock, and you will still ball your eyes out even if you are on a public bus on your way to work. 

With such a dark and depressing subject being narrated by Death, it’s probably no surprise I left this book in a puddle of tears. But there is so much love in this story – you just end up feeling hopeful about love and life and the human spirit.

Confession:  I have already read this book twice.

I really just can’t say enough about how much I am in love with this book. I will leave you with some of my favorite quotes, although I wish I could just quote the whole thing.

“Summer came.
For the book thief, everything was going nicely.
For me, the sky was the color of Jews.”

“”How does it feel, anyway?”
“How does what feel?”
“When you take one of those books?”
At that moment, she chose to keep still. If he wants an answer, he’d have to come back, and he did. “Well?” he asked, but again, it was the boy who replied, before Liesel could even open her mouth.
“It feels good, doesn’t it? To steal something back.””

“He was the crazy one who had painted himself black and defeated the world. She was the book thief without the words.
Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.”

“I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

“I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race – that rarely do I even simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant. A small note from your narrator: I am haunted by humans.”

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A Hot-Dog House is Transformed

The Big Reveal is finally here!

First, let’s take one final look at the dreary, 1990s-style hunter green “before”.
house before

Please also note from this picture that there is not a single plant in that flower bed.  Okay, I take that back.  There is a dead rose bush.  Cool.

And now, the after!

Please just ignore the difference in grass color, and focus on the house, k?

house front

So, what do you guys think?

Check out the back.  Before.  Notice the green trim around all the windows/doors.

back before

back before 2

And, after.

back after

I am so exhausted.  This was not easy work, people.  I will post another day about all the landscaping changes. 

Here is the cost breakdown for the paint:

2 gallons primer ~ $40.00

2 gallons paint – Behr’s “Popped Corn” ~ $40.00 with rebate (But I only used 1 gallon)

1 gallon paint for the door – Behr’s “Daredevil” ~$25.00

5 cans black spray paint ~ $20.00

Total Cost = $125.00 – can’t beat that!

I am looking for feedback though.  What do you think about the color of the door.  Is that the right color red?

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