DIY Green

Chinese Dragon Puppet

We are in the depths of (the Polar Vortex) winter and I don’t know about you but I need all the distraction I can get to stop dreading the cold. Over the last few years one distraction that I really look forward to is the Chinese New Year parade. The bright colors, fireworks, lions and dragons do a lot to warm the soul. I love that it’s in February and forces us to get outside and have some fun, usually followed by lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant.


Last year there was also a celebration at the Garfield Park Conservatory (you can read about it here), which is an excellent place to visit during a cold and dreary winter. Much to Stella’s disappointment they didn’t have a celebration this year but she so enjoyed a project she learned there that she not only wanted to make it again, but decided to make a video to show others how to make it. This is a great project to do with your kids and I really love it because it uses materials that you probably already have. Stella used glitter to decorate her dragon but you could even use tissue paper or painted macaroni…get imaginative.

P.S. This is the first time either of us have really attempted to do something like this and actually share it. It was very impromptu…in other words rough. I hope you can enjoy it, regardless!

Posted on: February 8th, 2014 by Gette

One thing after another

Gosh, it’s been a while! It’s really been a crazy last bunch of months that began when my daughter started 1st grade. Last year she was in Kindergarten which; since she’s in an accelerated school, was essentially like 1st grade so I thought I had a grasp on how it would go…but no…I didn’t. She was immediately slammed with homework which is part of the reason I’ve been busy. Then there’s the house stuff….once we started getting into a routine we discovered we had bedbugs! That’s a topic for another post that I want to write someday. As that was happening we discovered that an upstairs window was causing a leak in the middle of our living room, but I figured out how to deal with it. Then our dog got sick, then the holidays, we discovered that a ceiling fan stopped working because of a small fire inside of the metal containment (which was rather horrifying to me), then the Polar Vortex and a ruined car rim, then a clogged drain…You get the idea, right? It’s been harrowing, to say the least.

But lately, I’ve been starting to figure out how to weather it all. For a while I just couldn’t take this house stuff, I’m still not sure I can. For me it’s been a very intense and crazy ride and I didn’t really want to face it for a while. But I slowly started to make some progress again. It started very small. I changed a light switch panel. Every night one of the last things I did was switch off the kitchen light and it had the ugliest cover, dingy white with rounded corners, on a dingy wall. I got really sick of it being the last thing I saw. So I went to Home Depot and bought a brass cover. Amazing! I love it. But, the wall was still dingy and I’d been dying to paint it with chalk paint so a few weeks ago I went and bought some paint for $10 and Stella and I painted that wall! Amazing! I had Stella paint the beadboard and trim white while I painted the upper wall with black chalk paint. We all loved it. Small things, small things.


Another small fix was adding a screen to our bathtub drain. After the clog happened (a mere 6 months after having our pipes cleaned when we first moved in) I made another trip to Home Depot and got this small copper colored screen. It’s such a small thing but it has a big impact on my mind. Before I was using a plastic cover that didn’t stay in place and looked grungy. This little screen has a much more elegant and complete feel to it.

So, progress is being made. Meanwhile, I’ve been going crazy on Pinterest and really thinking about the bigger changes I want to make, and how to approach them. I want to share some of these thoughts over the next few posting, so stay tuned!

Posted on: February 2nd, 2014 by Gette

Ponies and Compost

My only plan for the weekend was to take my daughter out for a pony ride. We discovered a place right before the end of the school year and went a handful of times but after moving into the house I don’t think we’ve gone at all. So, that was my one plan for Saturday, to go pony riding. But, friday evening I checked my email and discovered that there was a composting seminar by Nance Klehm happening on Saturday afternoon. That I couldn’t pass up! Especially since Nance is the one that emailed me about it! It couldn’t have been more perfect timing since I’ve really been trying to figure out my plan for composting here, at this house. I don’t have a composting bin and I’ve been trying to decide if I want to buy one or figure out the best approach for making one.


Saturday morning Stella and I headed out to the stable in the burbs, luckily the burbs aren’t to far from us now! There’s a small woodsy area off from the stable where they offer $5 pony rides for young children. They ask the parents if they’d like to lead the pony around the trail and I always say yes!
They ponys are so cute and funny. One of the first times I did it one pony was very stubborn and wanted to stop to eat grass instead of walking the trail. He even tried to bite me when I tried to pull him away! In that situation I had to get one of the girls to finish the ride.


Yesterday the riding was super smooth. The ponies were well behaved and I let Stella go around a couple of times. After the first round we took a break to go check out the riding lessons in the arena. There were about 5 riders practicing. The horses were so beautiful! I didn’t get any pictures of the lessons but afterwards we went through the stables to say hello to some horses and I snapped a bunch of pics there. We went back to the ponies for one last ride and then it was lunch time.


Off to the composting lesson we went. It was at a beautiful community garden in Humboldt Park. They had a very lush garden and a beehive that made Stella a little nervous but she managed to make it through the 2 hour (plus) lesson, happily distracted by Nance’s sweet chihuahua.


Nance began her lesson by explaining Meso and Thermo composting…ha, and I just thought compost was compost! Basically, Meso is the slow and easy way to compost. The temperature of the pile should be around 113 degrees but if you’re in a hurry for compost (composting emergency?) OR if you are trying to kill some nasty things like say pathogenic organisms and undesirable weed seeds then you might want to give thermo composting a go. Nance went on to explain the ideal carbon/nitrogen mixture for a good meso compost (30:1) and gave us lots of examples of what various plants offered in regards to those ratios.


Basically, you need some good carbons (such as hay, cardboard or coffee chaff aka “browns”) to balance out the nitrogens (food waste aka “greens”. Make sure the food waste is covered well whenever you add it to the pile. You shouldn’t just throw your food waste on the pile and walk away. Make sure it gets covered! You want to make sure there are some good layers going on. Then, every once in a while mix it up. She made it seem pretty easy.



There are still some things I need to figure out before I start my composting pile. The 2 big things are where should it go and where to get the carbons for starting? Sadly we just gave away all of our cardboard boxes from moving. Well, as someone said yesterday “If you are patient there are always opportunities for scavenging your materials.”



Posted on: August 18th, 2013 by Gette