Archive for the ‘Crackpot Projects, Non-Crafty’ Category

This week’s Crackpot Projects

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

by Nancy

This week’s crackpot projects have mostly been the non-fabric kind.  I went in to school for a while on Monday to  work on room set-up and organization.  I am not nearly as good at classroom decorating as some of the elementary teachers  I used to work with or many of the teachers whose  rooms I see on Pinterst.  Thankfully, the expectations  for high school classrooms aren’t quite as high, but I do still want my room to have some color and organization.  The board below is for posting the agenda for each of the different levels of German I’ll be teaching.



On this bulletin board I have written the German expressions I use a lot in class.  Then I’ve posted our class “tools,” which are online dictionaries and verb conjugation sites that we use a lot.  Finally, there’s a place to post “outlaw verbs,” also known as irregular verbs.



I also worked on organizing the cabinets with student supplies like white boards, dry erase markers, glue, scissors, index cards, etc that I want to be easily accessable to students.  It’s starting to feel a bit more like “my” room and ready for the school year, which is a good thing since school starts in just over 3 weeks!

Recycled Crayons

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

by Nancy


Now here’s a Crackpot Project which doesn’t use any fabric at all. Like most families with kids, we have a ridiculous number of old crayons in our house. And every school year we buy new ones because you have to start the new school year with new crayons. But what about all the old, broken crayons left behind? I saw (on the Internet, of course) that you could melt them in the oven in an old muffin tin and make new crayons. So, I’ve been on the lookout for a cool-shaped muffin pan on clearance to use for this purpose. (It’s recommended that you not bake muffins in the pan after using it for crayons.) A few weeks ago I found an ice cream cone shaped mold at JoAnn’s for 70% off. Perfect! Andrew and I have been peeling paper off of crayons and sorting them while watching the Olympics, and a few days ago we had enough to bake. Here is the result. They turned out great! I definitely recommend the silicone pan, which makes it much easier to remove the crayons because the pan is flexible. We’re already at work peeling and sorting our next batch…

More November Harvest

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

By Ann

Beet Greens!!! Harvested in “midwest Indiana” on Nov. 21 or thereabouts. Also to be included in our Thanksgiving feasting.

November Tomato Harvest

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

by Nancy

Believe it or not, these are grape tomatoes that I harvested yesterday!  And what’s more unbelievable it that they are from the volunteer grape tomato plant that sprung up all on its own in the middle of a flower bed this summer.  This volunteer plant produced more than twice the number of tomatoes of any of the plants which we intentionally planted.  Those tomato plants have long since died off.  Apparently, no one told this plant it was supposed to quit producing in early fall, so it’s just kept going.  Yum!

A Crackpotty Project Indeed

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

by Nancy

As Marty already knows, my trusty cell phone, which was about the same age as Nicholas, died a few weeks ago. It was a plain, simple, pay-as-you-go phone, but it had served me well. I don’t use it all that often, but it is nice to know that school can reach me if someone gets sick and I’m not at home. And to call Eric from the grocery store when he puts something on the list that I can’t identify. So, after about a week of mourning, I started looking at replacements.
And, boy, are there a lot of options out there to look at! At first it was quite overwhelming. Do I want another simple phone, or do I want a phone that can do a bit more, like send text messages or take pictures, or a whole lot more like an iPhone? (A certain member of my family who loves Grandpa Lou’s iPad, was lobbying for the iPhone.) And do I want to continue with pay-as-you go or switch to a contract? Stick with AT&T or switch to a different provider? Do an individual plan or a family plan with Eric? Phew!
It was a little overwhelming, so I decided to take a survey of parents at the playground after school. There was everything there from the super simple Just A Phone to an iPhone and everything in between. People kindly let me test out the wonders of their phones and told me why they liked what they had and how much it cost. My friend April, who is a bit younger than me and much more technologically hip, explained to me what she likes about texting. So, I took what I’d learned there and did some more research online and compared and pondered. I went to Target and Best Buy to actually handle some of the phones I was considering. The funniest part there was when the Target clerk asked me, “Are you due for an upgrade?” (Usually cell phone contracts are 2 years and you can’t get a new phone before then without paying a hefty fee.) Yes, I’m due for an upgrade.
Finally, on November 3, I felt like I was well-enough informed to venture out to the Verizon store. The salesperson there was quite helpful and not pushy about trying to sell me things I didn’t want, especially after I corrected him on how any Kilobytes are in a Megabyte. (He thought it was 500, which couldn’t possibly be right – the whole point of the metric system is multiples of 10!) So, here it is, my new phone:

It’s called an LG Ally, and it’s an Android Smartphone, for those who are interested in those details. It’s a big step up into the modern world for me, but it’s actually been quite easy to learn how to use. And I was able to keep my same phone number. I’ve sent and received my first text messages, taken and sent pictures with it, and even checked email on it. I really like it! So, if you have Verizon too and send and receive texts or photos, let me know and I’ll send you one! And if you’re happy to have Just a Phone, don’t worry – I’ll keep emailing and calling on a landline like usual.

Latest crackpot project

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

The past few weekends I worked on a crackpot project that has been long in coming – painting my bedroom. I bought my condo 5 years ago, and all the painted surfaces (walls and ceilings) have been a color I refer to as Contractor Beige the entire time. I’d been planning on painting my bedroom blue for most of those 5 years. The beautiful blue skies and buildings we saw in Morocco finally pushed me over the edge.

Here’s the result:

Some thoughts on painting…

  1. People who say painting is cheap must already own their painting supplies. And buy cheap paint. I didn’t have any paint supplies, and a trip to the local home store with a long list of everything but the paint set me back about $200. Add in high-quality paint, and the price keeps going up.
  2. Painting the ceiling is no fun at all. When using white paint on white primer, it’s really hard to figure out which areas have been painted and which haven’t.
  3. When the guy at the paint store recommends a product, believe him. The edger is great.
  4. No-VOC paint is great for people (like me!) sensitive to paint fumes. I used Benjamin Moore Natura and I didn’t notice any aroma until I was nearly done with the room – and even then, it was vastly less smelly than normal paint. I ended up having to do two coats on the walls, but according to the woman I talked to at the paint store when I picked up the second gallon, that’s fairly common for this paint. I’d much rather do two non-smelly coats than one smelly coat.
  5. Taking a ceiling fan/light down requires two people, but it is possible for one person to put it back up.
  6. When the fan manual doesn’t know what color the wires coming out of the ceiling are, consult the internet – there is a standard configuration.
  7. I hadn’t expected painting to be quite so much work, or give me as much of a sense of accomplishment. I had some help for moving things out of the room, but did all the prep and painting and moving things back into the room all by myself.

I still need to do some touch-up work (blue spots on the ceiling – whoops!). But that can wait.

Sesame Street Turns 40!

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Sesame Street 40th Season

Ok, so this is neither quilty nor crafty, but when it’s NaBloPoMo and you’ve been sick, you take what you can get! Tuesday November 10, 2009 is Sesame Street’s 40th Birthday! (Andrew just pointed out that Brett Favre is one year older than Sesame Street – I guess that means he’s REALLY old!) I hear Michelle Obama is going to stop by and teach how to plant a garden. Set your TV recording devices if you have one…

Walking: All The Cool Kids Are Doing It

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Does learning a new skill count as a Crackpot Project? Why the heck not!

Yes we did!

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

Can I just say how overjoyed I am to be able to post this picture?
Newspaper headlines from November 5

Oh hey, and there’s also this:

(Note the time stamp in the upper right corner!)

To answer Ann’s question about posting about politics on a quilting blog: heck yeah! After all, when I think back to what Obama’s candidacy seemed like when it began, “crackpot project” pretty well describes it, don’t you think?

There are some terrific photos and stories out there, but if you want to get all goose-bumpy, I highly recommend these two videos from the campaign:
Signs of Hope and Change
We Have a Lot Of Work To Do

And if you haven’t seen this series of four photos from the crowd at Grant Park on Tuesday night, you really should take a look.

Last but not least, photojournalist Callie Shell has a page of photos she took of the campaign for Time Magazine. Keep clicking the link at the bottom of the page for “more photos.” My favorite is the one in the ice cream shop.

At last!! Pickles Worth Pickling!

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Still Life With Pickles

OK, so this is not a quilting project; it has nothing to do with fabric, wool, or thread; and it is not the least bit decorative. But it is a significant personal achievement, so it goes on the blog.

I have been making pickles for probably 30 years. And they have never been able to hold a candle to what I can get with my bagel at Einsteins. I have always considered this to be a personal failing. My earliest pickles, made with a recipe from the Vermont Extension Service (this will date my efforts for most Crackpots) had great flavor but were limp and mooshy. Later efforts, using more up-to-date recipes, produced crisp pickles that were so acid as to make one’s throat constrict. I even tried old-fashioned brined, fermented pickles. Not surprisingly, they turned out to be salty. Last year I tried a recipe from “Too Many Tomatoes….. a Cookbook for When Your Garden Explodes,” called icicle pickles. They were nice and crisp but too acid and flavored with celery seed, which I didn’t like. Finally, last month, in desperation, I decided to try using the method for the icicle pickles and the pickling solution from the Vermont Extension Service. The key elements in the combined recipe are: 1) dilute the vinegar in the pickling solution and 2) do not process for more than 5 min. Today, after allowing the pickles to pickle for about 6 weeks, we tried them with lunch. Eureka!!!! They crunched!!! They tasted like dill!!! They did not make our throats close up!!!! THEY ARE WORTH EATING!! Now we can say, “Gee, a nice pickle would taste good with this,” instead of “Hmmm, we should probably try to eat a pickle with this because we have to eat up these pickles some day.” In fact, the old pickles will be tossed on the land fill where they will turn into compost and free up lots of canning jars for other canning efforts. (Notice how adroitly I can rationalize throwing away food in this case.) You can expect pickles for lunch, Crackpots, but not for Christmas presents. We only had enough cucumbers for one batch. Maybe next year…