Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rain Barrels save you money 4d: Participating in a Community

This blog post was written by Madison (Mady) MacPeek, a 9th grade Living Environment student at Lancaster High School, Lancaster NY.

     The students and teacher in S11 have been getting very green
lately. For the 2013 Erie County Department of Environment and Planning Earth Day Rain Barrel Painting Contest they have done just that. The Coca - Cola Bottling Company of Buffalo provided the blank barrels, but the students in Mrs. Balling's Biology class gave it personality. The rain barrel was first sanded and primed with Glidden Gripper.

Rain Barrel primed with Glidden Gripper.

     The design concept centered around the idea that water is necessary for all life on Earth, and the students painted the barrel during 5 minute class breaks between periods. 
The design sketched out on the barrel

The paints that we used.

The parts of the design were color coded to match paint colors that we had available.

     The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning chose the theme "Rainwater is a resource, not just a runoff!"  The rain barrel features a beautiful scene, decorated with rhinestone raindrops, colorful flowers and complete with a river with fish and frogs.  


     After the contest, the finished barrel will be placed in a public area in Lancaster (still to be determined). The water the rain barrel collects will be used to do things like water plants, saving money, and saving drinking water. The contest was open to all middle schools and high schools around Western New York, and shows how even little steps can help our environment. We wish them good luck in the contest!

Update on April 24th, 2013 We won 3rd place!
There was a press conference at the Rath Building in Downtown Buffalo, NY. 
our certificate of participation

Mark Poloncarz
Top three (first place is bottom left, second place is bottom right, ours was third place)

Here are pictures of all of the rain barrels...

There will be more pictures coming!

originally posted on

Friday, April 5, 2013

Garage Door Facelift for less than $20

Since the day we moved in I have HATED this garage door.

It just made our house look so boring.

I have always wanted a garage door that has windows and all of the cute details that adds charm and curb appeal to a house. However those charming carriage garage doors cost some major money and replacing a garage door that works just to buy one that looks pretty seems like a pretty big waste to me.
I read about painting fake windows on this blog and decided that I had to try it. After all, it's only paint.
Before I read her post I had never noticed that garage door windows always look black. So they are really easy to fake.
Her garage doors were already small rectangular panels which lead easily to small square "windows." My garage door is just 4 flat boards which meant a LOT of measuring but it gave me the flexibility to choose whatever design I wanted.

Today was a beautiful early April day by Buffalo standards (43 degrees and Sunny), I decided to repaint the garage door and then add the details before my husband came home from work (a surprise for him). The way I see it if it looks bad, paint over it.

Here's what I did:

#1 measure everything. The width and height of the door, the half way point, half of that...sketch out on cardboard the window pattern because you want the to be 1/4 of the total width of the door and the same all the way across.

#2 repaint the garage door. (If you need garage door needed this step)
with a new paint job (slightly darker than the white we had before)

#3 trace the windows with a pencil.

(I also flipped the template over to make the curves go the other way.)

#4 Line the pencil lines with Frog Tape to get sharp straight lines (best masking tape around) Don't get cheap and buy a different brand. Trust me. Frog tape gives you the sharpest edge.

#5 with GLOSS black paint paint all of the windows and then carefully peel the masking tape.

I think it makes a huge difference. Then I added some hinges. Some ideas are here:

door with hinges

Here it is again:


originally posted on