Thursday, December 18, 2014

Origami Folding Mat

Recently I have been totally absorbed in transparent window stars AKA Waldorf Stars. On browsing one page, I noticed an origami folding mat which looked pretty handy for folding little pieces of paper. I looked around online and not finding anything else similar decided to make my own. I had to fuss with Excel a good bit to get it as square as possible, but I finally think I got it as close to square as possible. Print on cardstock for more stability.


(Click image to download .pdf file)

Yarn Baseball

yarn baseball

So we had a baseball mitt, something of a bat, but nothing in the line of a ball. My darling children made a ball from yarn and a plastic bag (complete with huge piece of gravel inside! Surprised smile), but when it hurt my daughter’s knee, I told them I’d make them a ball. The rock idea, as it turns out, wasn’t half bad, but I knew it would need to be well padded. Here is what you’ll need if you want to make your own yarn baseball:

Small rock or stone for center weight

Newspaper to coat the rock (remember rock, paper, scissors? … paper wraps the rock, lol)



Yarn needle

Baseball stitching pattern (optional)

Begin by wrapping the stone(s) with newspaper, then cover the newspaper with a layer of polyfill or quilt batting. Wrap snugly with yarn and keep wrapping, turning the ball constantly to keep the shape nice and round until you reach the desired size. To keep the yarn from unwinding, string some of the yarn onto the needle and sew in and out all around the ball to anchor the layers of yarn. Optionally, you can print out a baseball stitching pattern and stitch along that to make it look a little more authentic looking.

The kids love their new ball. It’s a little bouncy (but not overly), it is a good size for playing catch, and it’s soft enough that it won’t cause any injuries to inexperienced ball players. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Who would have thought?… Vinegar!

I have always heard that there are tons of uses for vinegar from relieving bee stings to extending the life of cut flowers.

But the use that has me so excited is one that helps me embrace my inner hippy just a little bit more—natural deodorant!

I think it’s been years now that I haven’t used any antiperspirant because of harmful additives, but I have never been all that impressed by the staying power of the natural deodorants we bought. Even one that claims image
didn’t last past a few hours. I generally don’t have underarm odor problems, but under stress or when I’m in a rush, things can go south in spite of deodorant use.

I have been looking for alternatives to lackadaisical, pricey store-bought deodorant but until now hadn’t found anything that was satisfactory. I tried some coconut oil and baking soda, but the soda was rough on my skin. Recently I did some more reading on natural recipes and still many of the diy recipes contain coconut oil which can stain your clothes so I wasn’t all that interested. I looked into the natural deodorant stones, but they contain alum which makes me nervous so still looking until…

I happened upon a comment on a forum about the use of vinegar for body odor. The explanation was that the microscopic critters that love your sweat and actually cause the stink can’t live/thrive in an acidic environment. Now, I did get the sense that users’ mileage may vary, but I thought it was worth a try.

Sabbaths tend to be my rush-about getting ready, get out the door on time, teach/lead… kind of days and are prime time for deodorant failure (terrible time for deodorant to fail!) so this was my first trial.
I took a cotton swab and dipped it into a little jar of white vinegar, squeezed a little out and wiped it on. Then, so I wouldn’t smell like a pickle jar, I took a little TP and fanned my armpits until they were dry (the vinegar smell goes away).

Results after a typical day of teaching, rushing, running about… Zero stink, Vinegar WIN!
So, feeling emboldened, I decided it was time for the working in the garden, sweating much test. That happened the next day. Now, granted I was only in the sauna-like greenhouse for 3 1/2 hours and wasn’t doing anything terribly strenuous, but I was sweating quite nicely.

Results? Hubby got his nose right in my armpit at the end of the day and didn’t make the tiniest bit of a face (because there was NO smell!), Vinegar WIN!

We just went to the garden again yesterday and this time it was 4 hours of hot, sweaty planting in the greenhouse and still, NO stink. I’ve even gotten teenage Geo in on the action and he reported no odor as well.

I wonder if other acidic solutions (like a citric acid solution) would work. Apple cider vinegar would doubtless work but the fumes are so strong that I prefer white vinegar for this. I did read that lemons work as does witch hazel, but for now, since I know it works so well, I’m happy with vinegar. It does the trick and it’s cheap!

ETA: Due to the acidic nature of vinegar, you might not want to apply it right after shaving…ouch! Wait a bit (or try the witch hazel) and you should be good.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gimp Autosave Hack

I like Gimp, I really do. Yes, it has a learning curve, but it’s not unreasonable, considering all the tutorials and how-to videos available on the web. One thing has kept me from loving Gimp, at least until recently.

My laptop’s battery has been going downhill recently and sometimes won’t hold a charge for longer than 20-30 minutes so I keep it plugged in all the time. The problem is that my unreliable charging cable sometimes charges, sometimes doesn’t. So I experience more than the usual number of unexpected shutdowns (if I forget to diligently watch the battery meter). A project I have been working on has had me editing quite a few images in Gimp and also subsequently losing a lot of work when my computer dies without warning. I searched and searched for something that would work as an autosave feature since Gimp for Windows doesn’t come with that feature (it should).

Finally, I found something that works (as long as I remember to get it started when I start Gimp; next for something to automate that).

Here’s what you do: Download and install AutoHotKey. Create a script in notepad and save it as AutoSave.ahk (I keep mine on the desktop for easy access).

Paste this code (I have no idea if all of this is necessary, but it works):

; AutoHotkey Version: 1.x
; Language:       English
; Platform:       Win9x/NT
; Author:         A.N.Other <>
; Script Function:
;    Template script (you can customize this template by editing "ShellNew\Template.ahk" in your Windows folder)

#NoEnv  ; Recommended for performance and compatibility with future AutoHotkey releases.
SendMode Input  ; Recommended for new scripts due to its superior speed and reliability.
SetWorkingDir %A_ScriptDir%  ; Ensures a consistent starting directory.



; Save the file every one minute.
SetTimer, AutoSave, 60000, On

   IfWinActive, ahk_class gdkWindowToplevel
      Send {Blind}^s

If you don’t want it to save every minute, just change the 60000 value to a multiple of 60000/minute.

You might have to change the “ahk_class gdkWindowToplevel” entry. With Gimp open and AutoHotKey running, I right clicked on the icon in my system tray and selected “Window Spy” which brought up a window with the ahk_class name next to it.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Working Washer! (Finally, Again)

So much for going many years before another major repair…

In the not too distant past, the washer started not spinning out the clothes sufficiently and left them damp enough that I could squeeze water out of them after their spin. I could put them on spin again and that would usually do the trick. But then the washer started not spinning out heavy loads (no, I try not to overload the washer, but some loads are just a little heavier than others). I could get the tub spinning if I was right there when the spin cycle started. I would lift the lid, push down on the lid switch with my finger and pull the tub clockwise and that would usually work. Finally it was so bad that it was doing it all the time and that was becoming inconvenient very fast.

I went online and tried to find a solution. There were several things I thought it could be, but one post I read said something about oil from the transmission could get into the clutch causing it to slip and not spin. The poster said that if there was a line of oil about 6” from the ground on the inside of the cabinet, that the transmission was leaking oil. Sure enough, I had the 6” line of oil. It took me awhile to figure out the cause of the leak, but most people agreed that it was mostly likely the shaft seal on the top cover of the transmission that was the culprit.

So I ordered the part and 2 days later got down to business. I pulled the transmission out and opened her up. She was filled with black sludgy oil with lots of floating plastic slivers in it. I dumped out all the old oil and attempted to replace the seal. It…wouldn’t…..budge. I couldn’t figure out why the rubber was SO bonded to the metal. I carefully scraped at it with a knife but it wouldn’t come off. Maddening! I froze it hoping that the rubber would become brittle and come off. I sprayed it with WD-40 hoping that that would weaken the bond of the rubber, no good. Then Geo (13) came at it with a screwdriver, figured out what I had been doing wrong and in no time flat, had the other part of the seal out. Whew! So now to just pop the new one in. Wrong. It….wouldn’t….go….in. So back to the net, I read about how one person used a “tail piece” plumbing part to muscle it in so I took our bathroom sink apart and borrowed what I thought was a tail piece, but it just wouldn’t work. So DH brought home the real deal (like this) and after a little “persuasion,” finally got it to go in.

Great, so now to put it all back together again and we’d be in business! Smile Not so fast. I had to buy some RTV gasket maker stuff and some 80W-90 gear oil to refill the transmission with. Got that, had Geo help me steady the transmission so I could pour the oil in (made sure I had all the parts in the right way), applied the gasket, screwed it all together, waited the 1 hour curing time and we held our breath… Filled for a small load, agitated properly on all the speed settings, drained and then just sat there, making a spinning noise, but NOT SPINNING! Agrivating. I couldn’t think of anything else to do but take it all apart again. Something was wrong in the transmission still because at least it was spinning (sort of) before I took it apart and now, nothing. I took pics, videos, uploaded them to my appliance forum and waited for replies. Some thought maybe I hadn’t waited long enough for it to spin, some thought maybe the spin gear was warn, which it is, but not seriously. Finally, one good Samaritan noticed that I had installed the spin gear cam upside down which wasn’t allowing it to activate neutral drain. I flipped it over, but still had to wait for DH to bring some engine cleaner so I could get the oil off the gasket surface before making the new gasket.

Finally it was ready to install this morning and …. it works! It works great! I’m so happy about that! So now I have our backup washer running in the carport (just till we get caught up) and Old Faithful working away in the laundry room, I should get caught up on laundry in no time. 

Now I pray that this fix lasts a LOOOOOOOONG time and I won’t have to look at the underside of my washer till a far and distant time.