How to Make DIY Wind Chimes

Wind chimes have long been used as a holistic method of natural mind and body healing. The gentle music they create as the breeze flows through them can provide a feeling of tranquility in your patio, garden or balcony.

How to Make DIY Wind Chimes

photo from realtor.com

Making your own wind chimes is a fun DIY project that’s great to share with children. Best of all, you don’t need to shop for expensive items for your wind chimes; you can use items already in your house!

Basic Design: Wind Chimes

The most common style of wind chime has a center-mounted wind catcher surrounded by various sound-producing items (such as metal pipes). The wind catcher will also feature a “banger”, which is an object hanging in the center, banging into the surrounding items as the wind catcher moves in the breeze.

This is what causes the chime effect.

Finding Items for DIY Wind Chimes

Since most wind chimes are circular, find a colorful plastic lid you can use as the top of the wind chime. If you don’t have a colorful lid, you can paint any lid the color of your choice.

The best thing about a homemade wind chime is you can use practically anything to make it: old silverware, bells, old keys, small decorative rocks, marbles, seashells, or even sticks. Collect an assortment of items and choose the ones that work best together.

Preparing the Lid

Find the center of the lid and punch or drill a tiny hole through it. Slide a piece of string or nylon thread through the hole and tie it in a knot on the top side of the lid. Measure out the string to your desired length and cut it.

Make additional holes along the outside edges of the lid, one for each chime. Keep the distance between the chimes as even as possible, so the chime will be balanced.

Hanging the Center Banger

Attach your chosen banger at the center point on the center string. The banger needs to be hard and large enough to make a noise when it bangs into the surrounding chimes—but not so heavy the wind catcher below it is unable to move with the breeze. If you choose something circular—like a small rock—wrap the nylon thread or string around it and tie it in a knot. Now apply a layer of non-toxic glue over the string to hold it in place.

At the base of the center string, attach your wind catcher. This can be anything with a large, flat or curved surface to catch the wind, like a smaller plastic lid or a large spoon.

Hanging Your Homemade Wind Chimes

Drill or punch holes through the tops of the chimes and the wind catcher before you attach them to the string so they will hang evenly when the job is complete.

When you hang the chimes, make sure the string is the right length for the banger to hit them all. You can make some strings longer than others in order to give your wind chime a unique look, but remember it must be balanced in order to work properly. If you make one chime short, make the chime directly across from it short as well.

Finishing the Wind Chime

Punch two more holes in the lid, evenly spaced apart. Slide thread through one side and tie it in a knot on the bottom side of the lid. Measure out how much thread you want for your hanging loop and cut the thread. Slide the other end of the thread through the second hole and tie it in a knot on the bottom side of the lid as well.

Find a low tree branch or hanging eave where you can hang your homemade wind chime.

Now, sit back and listen to its soothing music.

This story was rewritten from an earlier version by Dave Donovan. It was published on realtor.com. See it here.

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Best and worst places to move for schools

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the best- and worst-scoring states in kindergarten-through-12th-grade achievement, based on Education Week’s 2014 Quality Counts report.

Education Week analyzed separate categories that measure different components of the education system. These categories are K-12 achievement; standards, assessment and accountability; the teaching profession; school finance; students’ chances for long-term success; and transitions and alignment.

Best and worst places to move for schools (© Troy Aossey/Getty Images)

© Troy Aossey/Getty Images

K-12 achievement measures test scores and graduation rates. Standards, assessment and accountability determines whether schools measure student achievement through standardized testing and rewards and penalizes schools based on performance. The teaching profession category measures whether schools hold teachers accountable to high standards and provide incentives for performance. School finance measures whether the state is spending money on students and identifies funding inequality. The category of students’ chances for long-term success measures family background and employment opportunities. Transitions and alignment measures how schools manage students’ transitions between the school systems and secondary education or employment.

5. Vermont (best)

5. Vermont (© SuperStock)

© SuperStock

  • State score: 77.3
  • High school graduation rate: 85 percent (the best)
  • Per pupil expenditure: $17,388 (3rd highest)
  • Preschool enrollment: 50.8 percent (tied for 11th highest)

Vermont spent 5.5 percent of taxable resources on education in 2011, the highest proportion in the country. That year, per pupil spending in the state was the third highest nationally, at $17,388. Some 85 percent of Vermont public high school students in the class of 2010 received a diploma, the best graduation rate in the country that year, and more than 10 percentage points better than all U.S. high school students. Additionally, 14.2 percent of eighth graders performed at an advanced level on national assessments last year, fourth highest in the nation. Vermont also has shown its school systems can be innovative. Five years ago, in an effort to reform several failing elementary schools, Vermont introduced the nation’s first sustainability-themed public elementary school. Today, the school is thriving with coveted teaching positions and a long waiting list for kindergarten.

4. New Hampshire (best)

4. New Hampshire (© SuperStock)

© SuperStock

  • State score: 78.8
  • High school graduation rate: 78.3 percent (18th best)
  • Per pupil expenditure: $14,556 (9th highest)
  • Preschool enrollment: 51.9 percent (8th highest)

Unlike the most of states, New Hampshire did not require formal evaluations of teachers in 2012. This may partly explain the state’s D grade in Education Week’s teacher profession category, worse than nearly every other state. New Hampshire students, however, perform very well on standardized tests. Nearly 59 percent of fourth graders were proficient in math in 2013, second only to Minnesota. Fourth graders in the state were also second in the nation in reading ability, with nearly 45 percent demonstrating reading proficiency on national assessments in 2013.

3. New Jersey (best)

3. New Jersey (© MARK MAKELA/Newscom/RTR)

© MARK MAKELA/Newscom/RTR

  • State score: 82.1
  • High school graduation rate: 83.1 percent (5th best)
  • Per pupil expenditure: $14,920 (6th highest)
  • Preschool enrollment: 63.4 percent (2nd highest)

The proportion of New Jersey eighth graders performing at an advanced level on math sections of national tests increased by 9.2 percentage points in the past 10 years, more than double the rate of improvement nationwide. Last year, 46.3 percent of New Jersey’s eighth graders were proficient in math, second only to Massachusetts. New Jersey scored in the top 10 in all four spending indicators measured by Education Week. The state spent nearly 5% of its taxable resources on K-12 schooling that year, second only to Vermont. However, Education Week graded New Jersey’s management of its teachers among the worst in 2012. Recently, as part of Governor Chris Christie’s focus on education, the state has introduced teacher tenure programs that aim to make it more difficult for mediocre teachers to continue teaching poorly.

2. Maryland (best)

2. Maryland (© Uyen Le/Getty Images)

© Uyen Le/Getty Images

  • State score: 83.1
  • High school graduation rate: 78.6 percent (17th best)
  • Per pupil expenditure: $13,060 (16th highest)
  • Preschool enrollment: 49.2 percent (15th highest)

The state performed remarkably well in Education Week’s measure of public school achievement. Nearly 45 percent of fourth graders were proficient in reading based on 2013 national assessments, the highest in the nation and more than 10 percentage points better than the national average. The state actually scored better than the average state in all six major categories Education Week measures. Maryland’s grade in facilitating student transitions between schools and into the professional world was second best in the country. In 2013, for example, high school students in the state were able to earn credits towards Maryland’s postsecondary system, one of only eight states to enact such a policy.

1. Massachusetts (best)

1. Massachusetts (© J. Greg Hinson/Getty Images)

© J. Greg Hinson/Getty Images

  • State score: 83.7
  • High school graduation rate: 79.9 percent (14th best)
  • Per pupil expenditure: $13,127 (15th highest)
  • Preschool enrollment: 59.4 percent (3rd highest)

As it did last year, Massachusetts received the highest grades of any state for its student achievement and chance for success. Massachusetts elementary students also outperformed those in every other state in reading proficiency, as did middle schoolers in mathematics. Last year, the number of advanced scores on national assessments more than doubled in the state, a larger increase than any other state. More than 18 percent of eighth graders achieved an advanced level in math that year, the highest proportion to achieve such excellence in the country. The percentage of children with at least one parent who works full time and the percentage of children with at least one parent who has earned a postsecondary degree were higher than every other state in the nation.

5. Alabama (worst)

5. Alabama (© Peter Tsai Photography/Alamy)

© Peter Tsai Photography/Alamy

State score: 62.2
High school graduation rate: 69.4 percent (10th worst)
Per pupil expenditure: $9,959 (17th lowest)
Preschool enrollment: 44.4 percent (22nd lowest)

Less than one out of five Alabama eighth grade students were proficient in math on national assessments last year, worse than any other state. Reading skills were nearly as bad at the eighth grade level, with just around 25 percent of students demonstrating proficiency in 2013. Students in Alabama face limited opportunities to succeed as well. Just 69 percent of students had a parent working full-time and year round, while just 42 percent had at least one parent with a postsecondary degree — both worse than most other states.

4. West Virginia (worst)

4. West Virginia (© Getty Images)

© Getty Images

  • State score: 60.8
  • High school graduation rate: 74.7 percent (23rd worst)
  • Per pupil expenditure: $14,147 (11th highest)
  • Preschool enrollment: 35.5 percent (3rd lowest)

Between 2003 and 2013, West Virginia fourth and eighth grade students became less proficient readers, with national test scores worsening by 4.5 percentage points and 2.2 percentage points, respectively — the worst declines in the nation. While nearly 50 percent of three- and four-year-olds were enrolled in preschool across the nation in 2012, only 35.5 percent of West Virginia children were enrolled. Early last year, West Virginia received a waiver releasing schools from No Child Left Behind regulations, allowing the adoption of a new system. One way the state may seek to improve national test scores is to adopt Florida’s education model, which grades schools on student performance.

3. New Mexico (worst)

3. New Mexico (© Richard Cummins/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis)

© Richard Cummins/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis

  • State score: 60.3
  • High school graduation rate: 59.4 percent (the worst)
  • Per pupil expenditure: $10,547 (22nd lowest)
  • Preschool enrollment: 38.4 percent (6th lowest)

In addition to low achievement grades, New Mexico school systems got a D+ in Education Week’s chance for success category, worse than every state except for Nevada. Less than half of young adults were enrolled in postsecondary institutions or had completed a degree as of 2012. High school graduation rates in New Mexico were also the lowest in the nation in 2010, at less than 60 percent. Last year, middle school students in New Mexico were among the least proficient in mathematics and reading based on national test scores. Less than one-quarter of eighth grade students were proficient in both subjects in 2013. In the past few years, however, New Mexico had adopted policies that may improve the performance of teachers and students in the coming years.

2. Louisiana (worst)

2. Louisiana (© John Elk/Getty Images)

© John Elk/Getty Images

  • State score: 59.8
  • High school graduation rate: 67 percent (6th worst)
  • Per pupil expenditure: $12,454 (19th highest)
  • Preschool enrollment: 52.1 percent (7th highest)

Louisiana students had among the worst NAEP scores in the nation, with fourth and eighth graders ranking second worst in math proficiency, as well as third worst in reading proficiency. While proficiency scores in the state are on the rise, as of 2012, high school students in Louisiana were among the least likely to record high scores on A.P. tests. Many students in the state lack adequate opportunities to succeed as well, with low family incomes and limited parental employment or education. All these factors help shape the early foundations that play a big role in determining a child’s chances for success in pursuing an education. The state has also faced controversy in the past over a 2008 law that allows schools to teach creationism in science classes.

1. Mississippi (worst)

1. Mississippi (© Getty Images)

© Getty Images

  • State score: 57.1
  • High school graduation rate: 64.4 percent (5th worst)
  • Per pupil expenditure: $9,542 (13th lowest)
  • Preschool enrollment: 53.1 percent (6th highest)

Mississippi was the only state in the country to receive an F in Education Week’s K-12 achievement category. High school students were the least likely in the country to score a three or above on advanced placement tests, with less than four high grades per 100 students in 2012, compared with more than 25 per 100 students across the nation. Poverty could be one factor affecting achievement. A minority of children have families earning more than double the poverty level, about 40 percent, the lowest nationally. In addition, the funds available in the state are not evenly distributed. To a greater extent than all but three other states, wealthy school districts in Mississippi had more funding per pupil than poor districts in 2011.

By Thomas C. Frohlich and Michael B. Sauter of 24/7 Wall St. | Source: http://realestate.msn.com/best-and-worst-places-to-move-for-schools 

 

Decorating a Kid’s Room to Last

There’s something inherently fun about decorating a kid’s room — bright colors, whimsical prints and accessories — but it’s tempting to go overboard. A room swathed completely in hot pink or centered around a theme may not work in a few years, or even a year from now.

How, then, do you create a kid-friendly space that will last? Two designers — Jennifer Jones, the principal designer at Niche Interiors in San Francisco, and Claire Paquin, the principal at Clean Design in Scarsdale, NY — offer their tips.

Choose big pieces that will transition

A child will eventually outgrow a few pieces in his or her room — a crib, for example, and perhaps a rocking chair — but otherwise, when buying furniture for the room, both designers advise finding items that can transition.

Jones designed a nursery in California for a child named Dylan and specifically chose darker, modern furniture — pieces that the family could use for years to come.

The dresser in Jones’ design can transition into other rooms or be used as the child ages.

The dresser in Jones’ design can transition into other rooms or be used as the child ages.

“When you’re selecting large pieces in the room, you want the pieces to transition,” Jones said. “I like dressers in kids’ rooms, rather than a changing table, because a changing table can only be used for a year and a half. On top of the dresser, you put a changing pad.”

Other items such as a rug or a rocking chair should also be pieces that you’ll be happy with for several years.

The kid touches in Dylan’s room are found in the whimsical dragonfly print wallpaper, the art prints adorning the wall and the aqua chair and pouf.

Aqua, orange and red touches add punches of color to the room.

Aqua, orange and red touches add punches of color to the room.

“The wallpaper is neutral, the rug is relatively neutral. It’s really the chair and window treatment where there’s still a lot of color, but if they wanted to change it in a few years, they could,” Jones said.

However, even as you choose basic, big pieces for a child’s room, Jones cautions against going too far in this direction.

“I don’t think going full neutral is the way to go. Kids and children need color stimulation, so I don’t agree with the rooms that are taupe and grays and browns. It’s too drab for kids,” she said. “I think bold, saturated color is great to make the room feel fun and young.”

Go vibrant — with limits

Like Jones, Paquin reiterates that color is necessary for a child’s room.

“People are afraid of color. They’re afraid they’ll get sick of it, but if you put color on the walls, it’s fairly easy to paint over time,” she said.

Paquin designed rooms for two young sisters, painting one space a bold aqua and another pink.

The soft pink becomes more grown-up with neutral shades of chocolate brown and white. Donna Dotan Photography Inc.

The soft pink becomes more grown-up with neutral shades of chocolate brown and white. Donna Dotan Photography Inc.

“When I design kids’ spaces I try to find two or three shades that are vibrant that work together,” she explained. “In the aqua room, it’s aqua and yellow, with pops of other colors, because you’re always going to have other color. But substantially it’s aqua and yellow.”

Choosing a limited palette of bright colors keeps the room from becoming overwhelming. And like Jones, Paquin chose neutral shades for the investment pieces in the room.

For example, the pink room has a chocolate brown velvet headboard. The aqua room’s bed is a cream chenille with polished nickel accents.

White bedding with pops of yellow make this child’s room fun. Photo by Donna Dotan Photography Inc.

“These are things that can grow,” Paquin said. “You can always repaint, but furniture lasts. You can reupholster, but it’s a lot of work and a lot of money, and if you buy a durable fabric, you won’t need to.”

Be practical but creative

You’ll always need certain items in a child’s room — if you have an infant, for example, you’ll likely need a crib — but try choosing pieces that are more contemporary or that have clean lines.

Want a rocker in the room? Jones said a recent client chose an Eames chair instead, and it’s a piece that can be used elsewhere in later years.

A rocking chair doesn’t need to be traditional, as is shown in this design by Jessica Gersten.

Or, as Paquin mentioned, you may want dark roller shades for sleep purposes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add fun window treatments over the functional shades.

“In the pink and aqua rooms, I added stripes of grosgrain ribbon at the bottom in aqua, pink and orange,” she said. “They’re really cute and make the colors [in the room] very intentional.”

Making the room your own, whether with fun curtains or classic furniture, is always going to be the best way to make the decor of a kid’s room — or any room — last, Jones says.

This article was originally published by Erika Riggs on Zillow Blog. See the original article here.

How to Find the Best Schools for Your Kids When You Move

Moving to a new area is never easy, but moving with kids in tow can be a real challenge. As a parent, you have to factor their education into your location choice, and that can get tricky when you’re searching in an unfamiliar area.

Work With Your Real Estate Agent

Your first conversation about schools should be with your real estate agent, who can provide information on local neighborhoods and the choice of schools your children might attend, whether public or private.

If you prefer private schools, you may have more flexibility picking the location of your new home, since you won’t have to find a place located within a particular school district’s boundaries.

If you want your kids in public schools, you’ll need to know the boundaries of school districts and their individual schools to narrow down your house hunt. However, Natalie Alchadeff, a Realtor® in Encino, CA, warns, “School districts may change their boundaries from time to time and you may find yourself in a district [or a neighborhood assigned to a particular school] you did not want to be in.” To be on the safe side, ask your real estate agent for a list of good schools in the area and then contact the school district office to make sure there are no plans to change boundary lines.

Research Online

Alchadeff recommends that, once you have an idea of the best schools, you should go online to do further research. The National Center for Education Statistics will give you data for each school district. GreatSchools, a national non-profit, provides ratings for each school as well as test scores, information on programs, and reviews covering teacher quality, parental involvement and principal leadership. Alchadeff says the site SchoolDigger.com, “givesyou school and district rankings and a comparison tool so you can compare the schools you are considering, side by side.”

For private schools, GreatSchoools and SchoolDigger provide some information, while the National Center for Education also has an online database that provides basic data such as grades taught, affiliations and student body make-up.

Visit Schools

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, set up times to meet with teachers, principals or administration staff.Alchadeff recommends asking questions to get a true feel for the school, such as:

  • What is the school’s disciplinary policy?
  • How does this school monitor students’ progress toward meeting grade-level standards?
  • Is free school busing available?
  • Is there an active parent organization?
  • How is technology used to support teaching and learning at this school?
  • What extracurricular opportunities are available for students?

When visiting private schools be sure to discuss entrance requirements. Some private schools require testing or that your child meet certain criteria before acceptance.

Plan Ahead

After you’ve narrowed down your choice of schools to one or two, look for housing inside the public school’s required boundaries or within an acceptable commuting distance for a private school.

Even if you’re set on a private-school education for your child, you may want to consider the quality of the public schools in the neighborhoods where you’ll be house hunting. Houses in high-ranking school districts often have a higher resale value than houses in lesser-ranking school districts.

By Angela Colley | Realtor.com | Source: http://www.realtor.com/advice/how-to-find-the-best-schools-for-your-kids/

The Force Is Strong in This Child’s Bedroom

Who needs a night-light when you have a pair of Jedi masters to fend off monsters under the bed?

The Force Is Strong in This Child’s Bedroom

While some children get to stake claim to their very own bedroom castle, this lucky child has the privilege of basking in the neon aura of Yoda and Jules Winnfield Mace Windu. The bedroom mind trick has a full-on space opera in mural form, complete with a fighter battling a walker and a host of moons, stars, craters and planets found in a galaxy far, far away.

And that’s not the only piece of art found within this Las Vegas, NV, home. The $1.59 million contemporary offering also rocks a cherub-rich ceiling mural in the master suite. Set above a black leather round bed, the whimsical scenery is the perfect complement to this palatial bedroom setting.

From Realtor.com

In addition to its wall art, the luxury home offers plenty of room to move with five bedrooms, six baths and an open floor plan of more than 5,200 square feet. Interior highlights include vaulted ceilings in the living room, numerous built-ins and custom cabinetry. Outside, an infinity pool and spa wrap around the back portion of the home. Behind the pool, a stairway leads from the patio to a recessed sports facility with a pair of basketball hoops and a tennis court.

From Realtor.com

From Realtor.com

This listing is presented by Kamran Zand of the Kamran Zand Group.

This article was written by   on realtor.com. For the article source and more photos, click here.

Choosing Between Living in Cities or Suburbs

City or suburbs?

Since the end of World War II, when suburban life as we now know it came into being, families have struggled with choosing which experience to give their children.
Choosing between city or suburbs
If you had to choose between raising your kids in the city or suburbs, which would you choose? According to a recent Rent.com survey, the answer isn’t cut-and-dry. Both locations have pluses and minuses, and parents’ attachment to their city or ‘burb often dictates where they choose to raise their children.

Of the parents surveyed, 42 percent said they have always lived in the city and are raising their kids there, while nearly the same percentage chose to stay put in the suburbs to raise their families.

Other than having an attachment to bigger backyards and strip centers, how should you decide where to raise your kids? It’s not easy, but here are some things to consider when choosing between city and suburban life.

Housing Stock. The most obvious difference between the city and the suburbs is the type of housing stock you can find. Outside the city limits, you’ll probably get a little more space for your money, though the types of housing (single family and some condo or townhome developments) may be more limited.

In one of Chicago‘s North Side neighborhoods, for example, you can get a modern, two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo for $250,000.

But if you’re willing to travel 22 miles west of the city, you can get a newly-renovated three-bedroom, three-bathroom home with a yard in Downers Grove, Ill. for the same price. Your decision depends on what’s more important for you — space or convenience.

Also remember things that are normally a given in the suburbs — ample room for kids to play, a laundry room or closet and plenty of storage space — are things you’ll pay extra for if you live downtown.

Respondents to the Rent.com survey didn’t seem worried about the size of homes in the city. Only nine percent of parents cited not having enough space for their family as their biggest concern about city living. They weren’t too worried about cost, either; only one in four parents surveyed said cost would be an issue.

Commute. According to a Census report released last year, the average American worker spends over 100 hours per year commuting, and roughly 3.2 million U.S. workers are “extreme commuters” who spend more than three hours commuting to and from work every day. These commutes are no fun, and can take years off your life in the form of stress, high blood pressure and obesity.

The prospect of a long commute keeps many parents from moving out to the ‘burbs. Many large companies have offices in big cities, and that means more job prospects for parents. Working and living in the same city translates to shorter commutes and more time spent with family and friends, and some would give up suburban space for the chance to walk or bike to work.

To go back to our Chicago example, you work near Downers Grove, the smart decision may be to buy the bigger house, even though you’d prefer to live in a downtown Chicago condo simply because the reverse commute traffic will eat up at least two hours of your day.

But don’t despair if you have your heart set on living in the suburbs — you may be in luck. According to the Brookings Institute, more than 45 percent of jobs lie at least 10 miles outside downtown city areas. Today more than ever, parents have a good chance of finding a job close to their suburban home, or a company that allows telecommuting.

Lifestyle. There’s no doubt that living in the city is much different than living in the suburbs. Big cities tend to be more diverse, and that’s reflected in the food, art and people who live there. Nearly 40 percent of respondents to the Rent.com survey believe access to this diverse culture is the biggest advantage to living in the city versus the suburbs, and 12 percent believe this diverse population is more conducive to raising kids.

Even better, a lot of this stuff is right outside your door. When my husband and I decided to have kids, we made the move to the suburbs. It’s been great, but we certainly miss being able to walk two blocks in every direction and find a great ethnic restaurant, an independent theater production, a summer sidewalk fest, or a boutique selling local art.

Living in the suburbs requires a lot more driving, even if you’re not commuting to work.
The suburbs may lack culture, but for many parents raising kids in the ‘burbs feels like a safer choice. The survey revealed 46 percent of parents believe living in a suburb or smaller town offers the advantage of a safe neighborhood, and 56 percent revealed safety is their biggest concern when looking for an apartment or home in the city.

Both the city and suburbs offer perks for parents, but ultimately it’s all about where you and your family are most comfortable. Depending on where you live, factors like schools, recreational activities for kids and religious centers may also play a part in your decision.

If it’s any help, consider the parents in the Rent.com survey. Suburban parents were more satisfied with their choice to raise kids outside the city, with 46 percent of them saying they would make the same choice again. Only 34 percent of city parents felt the same way, and 18 percent would instead raise their kids in the suburbs if they had to make the choice again.

Share your stories and tips in the comments!

This article was originally published by Ilice R. Clink on Yahoo Homes. To see the original article, click here.