Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 3 of No Power

Day 3 of no electricity, no phone, no internet. (I'm trying wi-fi at McDonald's for the first time. Very cool!)

Outside: still a lot of trees down. I counted about 5 broken poles or broken wires in a 10 minute drive from our house to McDonald's. There are branches and trees down everywhere; it looks like a war zone. The power to the main route where I am now is on (mostly), but I think it's going to be a while for our neighborhood. Snowed some more over the weekend. Lost three BIG trees in the woods behind our house. I think we heard them fall overnight on Thursday.

Our house: thankfully, we have a generator running the essentials (see yesterday's post.) One of the neighbors came back and put on a generator, too. Neighborhood is pretty deserted.

Handy Man: has a cold, and his gout in his foot is bothering him. Yes, handy man has GOUT like an old man. He's been sniffling, coughing and hobbling around whining. I think he needs to go back to work...SOON!

Handy Boy: bored out of his mind; winter vacation last week wasn't much of a vacation. There may be no school tomorrow, I don't think the school has power. He's fighting me on finishing his book report. Hard to concentrate, hard to see with only 1 lamp on, lol.

Me: tired and aggravated. I may have to go to my parent's tomorrow to wash underwear.

Every time we hear a truck or car on the street, we rush (or hobble) to the window to see if its an electric company truck.

Supplies are running low...I'm going to bring some milk home. SEND HELP SOON! **sighhhh**

Saturday, February 27, 2010

No Electricity!

Hi everyone! I haven't been able to update the blog, as we had a HUGE wind storm on Thursday night. We had winds of over 50 mph; trees are down, lines are down. Poor Handy Boy was TERRIFIED of the noise! It was so awful.

Thursday at 10:30 pm, our power went out. As I write this (2:00 pm eastern on Saturday), we STILL have no power. So, no power, no phone lines, no INTERNET, aaaack!! I am posting this from my friend Holly's house. Thanks, Holly & Sean, for letting me use your internet!

Holly just re-did her downstairs bath, I asked her if I could take pictures of it to show on the blog here, so watch for those soon.

Handy Man is at home, keeping an eye on the generator. Thank GOODNESS we have a generator that powers the basics: heat, hot water, the fridge (so food doesn't spoil)...and the TV and VCR. That was Handy Man's idea, of course. Gotta make sure the TV has power! We can't watch any cable TV, but we have DVDs to watch. Handy Man also hooked up his computer to the generator; but with no internet service available, there's not much we can do with that.

Thanks for sticking around; I'll be back when I can!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wicked Good Spring Salad Recipe

We went to Scott and Magdalena's house recently, and my sister-in-law made a wicked good salad with a wicked good dressing that I wanted to share. Yum! Even Handy Boy ate it (we just recently got him to eat salad!)

mixed spring greens
red peppers


1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1-2 lemon wedges
salt and pepper (to taste)

The dressing was nice and tangy and flavorful!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Book Case is Now White

Here is the new/old book case we bought at the antique store. It was painted green, was very dirty, and had a wobbly board on the back of it.
Remember what it looked like before? Handy Man put two coats of white glossy latex paint on it, and we moved it to the guest room. He also removed the board on the back of it. I started to put some pictures and trinkets on top of it, and moved some books into it. 

I don't have all the books moved up there yet, but I like how it looks so far. I really love how it looks next to the light blue walls and the white trim.

And yes, that is the Twilight series on the second shelf. I am still on the first book! (Don't laugh, I have been super busy blogging, and I just got the set for Christmas. Never mind that its after Valentine's Day now!)

We have quite an oddball collection of books. We have new and old books of all subjects. On the same shelf as the Twilight books, you may be able to see some light blue books. Those are my Little House on the Prairie books. They are paperback and I have had them since I was a child. I suppose I could buy nicer hardcover copies, but I like the worn paperbacks.
On the top shelf are books that I have already read. I bought several of them at Goodwill for 25 or 50 cents. Sometimes it takes me a while to get around to books that I want to read (as you can see, with the Twilight books!), so I like to just buy them and have them around for a while.

If I don't love a book, when I'm finished with it, I will pass it on to someone. If I love it, I'll keep it. Most of those paperbacks are books I probably won't read again, but I wanted to check them out.

Do you have a lot of books around?
Linking to: Tip Junkie/House of Grace/Funky Junk Interiors/Domestically Speaking

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Never-Ending Hunny-Do List

Poor Handy Man. He always has a never-ending "Hunny Do" list, as he calls it. "Hunny, do this" and "Hunny, do that."

We are always making lists of things we want to do around the house and the yard. I thought I would post our list on the "Hunny Do List" page. That way, you can compare your list to ours, and maybe you won't feel so bad if you have a long list going. We usually do. Maybe if your list is longer than ours, you can let us know, so Handy Man doesn't feel so overwhelmed.

Then again, I'm not worried about it. Handy Man thrives on House Projects. I don't know what he would ever do if he ran out! I'll be adding to the list, and editing it often.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who Else is Sick of Winter?!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fresh Flowers

We don't "do" Valentine's Day here, so these aren't Valentine's flowers. These are some flowers that Handy Man bought me over a week before Valentine's Day, when I wasn't feeling well. 

Some flowers last longer than others, and this arrangement seems to have some that last pretty well, like: mums, carnations and alstromeria. There are a few simple things you can do to make your flowers last a bit longer: 
  • Before placing the flowers in water, cut the stems with some really sharp shears or a knife. It's best to get a pair of shears for household us.  Scissors are not meant for flowers, they can crush the stems. Cut the stems at an angle so they absorb more water. 
    • If your arrangement came with a packet of flower food, add some to the water. If you don't have flower food, add a pinch of sugar to the water. Make sure the water is lukewarm.
    • If you use a flower preservative, you should change the water about 2-3 times per week. If you aren't using any preservative, change the water daily. Discard any wilted blooms when you see them. Keep your flowers out of direct sunlight or a drafty area.
    • These flowers are in a cool spot near a window, but out of direct sunlight. I've been doing my best to keep these flowers looking nice because winter is so bleak here and I want them to last. We'll see how long I can get them to last!

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Organizing Pans in the Kitchen

    Kitchens seem to be the room in the house that need the most organizing. When Handy Man pulled apart our kitchen, I had to stack all of our kitchen stuff in another room.  When the kitchen was finished and I had to move everything back, I took the opportunity to go through everything. Again. 

    I donated some items, and tried to put things back in a way that made more sense. One of the things that helped to store my baking pans was this wooden gadget, shown above. I had seen something similar in a magazine, and told Handy Man that I wanted one for my baking sheets and pans in one of our cabinets. 

    What a difference it made! It's so much easier to take out items when I need them. Handy Man even made the system flexible, so I could remove sections to make them larger or smaller.

    If you have a Handy Person in your house, perhaps you could ask them to make one for you. Or, see if you can find something similar online. Even if you don't have the best storage in your kitchen cabinets, try a little rearranging. Take out the contents of one drawer or cabinet, go through everything, and put back only what you use. 

    Anyone else need a kitchen declutter?

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    Ye Olde Changing Table

    Handy Man and I bought this changing table way back in about 2000, for the impending arrival of Handy Baby. We found it in a consignment store that sold used and antique furniture and collectibles. We liked it for several reasons:

    - it was cheap

    - it was sturdy, not flimsy like the changing tables we had been looking at in department stores

    - it had nice, deep drawers for storage of all that baby "stuff"

    - it was a project. Handy Man painted it white, and we bought a nice pad to put on the top of it for baby changing.

    - it was cheap. Seriously, I think we paid less than $70 for it.

    The old changing table has now turned into a storage dresser in our guest room upstairs. I loved the changing table, its so cute and charming...but we've decided to put the new/old book case in its place. We no longer have a baby that needs changing, obviously; and there is another dresser in that room for storage, along with an ample closet.

    I'm not sure where the changing table will travel to on its next journey...perhaps we will sell it on Craigslist? Maybe we'll find a friend or family member who needs it? Farewell, ye olde changing table...

    Linking to:  Coastal Charm/ House of Grace

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    Wicked Big Lego Project

    Handy Boy has decided that he'd like help organizing all of his gazillions of Legos. Impossible, you say?


    This is just a mere portion of all the Legos that Handy Boy has, spread out on a blanket.  Handy Boy asks for Legos for every Birthday and Christmas and he saves his allowance money to buy sets.  Handy Man gave him some Legos saved from when he was a boy.  Handy Boy himself swears he will "NEVER, EVER" outgrow Legos, Ha!

    Since Handy Boy is nearly 9 years old and asked me for help, I thought it was time to start organizing the Legos. Handy Man maintains that we will never get this all organized, so now I have to show him! 

    We've started with some easy pieces first, the "guys". We put them into these plastic containers.
    We are sorting the rest by type into large and small Ziploc bags, for now:
    We've been sorting for a few 15-30 minute sessions, so far. For those of you who laugh and say this will never work, a few thoughts:

    - Handy Boy is a pretty organized, methodical child. He does like to sort things and keep his room fairly organized. He has gotten to the age where he wants to play with Legos almost constantly, but is frustrated with trying to find specific pieces. 

    - We don't have any pets who will trample on the Legos, and Handy Boy doesn't have any siblings. He does have a toddler cousin. I figure it will be easier to put the Legos away before she comes over, if they are organized into containers.

    Stay tuned to see just how long it takes to sort these, and what sort of containers we use. Handy Man and I have already looked at various inexpensive storage container at Lowe's. I want to sort them into the baggies first, to get an idea of the amount and size of storage containers we will need.

    Does anyone else have Legos around? How do you sort them...or not?

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    To Yard Sale or Not to Yard Sale?

    This is an old stroller for Handy Boy that we sold last year. Handy Boy is 8 now. I have no idea why we kept it around for that long. I think that we sold this stroller on Craigslist...

    One thing that people think about when decluttering is "Should I have a yard sale?" The answer to this isn't always simple. Let me tell you what we've done, in the past:

    When we lived in our first and second house (this is our third house), we had yard sales. The first house was in an old neighborhood with many houses close together. When looking in the newspaper at yard sale notices, we saw that there were many, many yard sales in the neighborhoods right around our home. We decided to try a yard sale, and sold a TON of stuff! I think we made over $500 at the first yard sale, and had one each summer the next two summers. 

    There were hardly any items leftover from each sale. All we did was put an ad in the paper, and Handy Man put signs on the telephone poles at each end of our road, directing people towards our sale.

    Eventually, we moved to our second home in a town just 15 minutes away. We still seemed to have a big pile of "stuff" to get rid of, even though I tried to declutter before moving. That home was in a part of town where people didn't drive through very often. Also, people tended to go to the previous town where we lived for yard sales, since there were many more sales clustered together there. 

    We did make $300, but Handy Man sold two items for about $100 each. Not as many people stopped by that yard sale. Those who did complained about "how far out" we were from the main town. Well, excuuuuuse us!

    We moved to this house in late 2005. We tried a yard sale in the summer of 2007, and it had the worst turnout out of all our sales. We live in a neighborhood where houses aren't very close together, and our area of town (and our town) is kind of off the beaten path. We made about $200, and that was after selling one item for $100! We had a lot of stuff leftover after that yard sale. At that point, we swore off yard sales...but thankfully, we didn't have much left to declutter at that point.

    Bottom line: Yard sales can be great, but they are a LOT of work for little money. It took us a lot of time to sort, clean, price and set everything up. I think its more worthwhile to have a yard sale only if you live in an area that historically hosts a lot of sales. 

    Plus, people always try to get the lowest price possible. We tried to mark items for almost nothing, but there are still people who tried to get our "stuff" for nothing! You must be OK with marking your stuff way, wayyyyy down, and haggling with people over prices.

    I'm not against yard sales. However, if you have a lot of clutter you need to get rid of, and it's making you feel overwhelmed, yard sales may not be your best bet. Put your things that are still in good condition into bags and take them to Goodwill, etc. You can also investigate getting your items picked up, as some donation centers will do pick-ups, especially for larger items like furniture.

    Have you ever had a yard sale? How did it work out?

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Tool Time With Handy Man

    By Rob

    Here’s the newest addition to my tool collection: A Walker Turner L540 wood lathe.

    I picked it up about 5 months ago from a Craigslist ad for a whopping $125.00. It was introduced in a 1936 product catalog. Although the L540 was introduced in the mid-1930's, I can’t be sure when this particular machine was made.

    When I first brought it home, it was a bit grimy. I took it apart and cleaned it up a bit. After reassembling it, I adjusted and oiled it up. In addition, I added a safety switch so that I could stop the machine without having to unplug it. To my surprise, the machine was in fine working order!
    I figure, now that I have a little time on my hands, I’ll start turning little wooden bowls and other items to sell at craft fairs.

    (A Note from Crafty Woman: A little time on your hands...Honey, have you SEEN your to-do list lately?!?!) :-)

    Taken from an ad in Popular Science Magazine, Dec. 1937:

    L540 Gap Bed Lathe $18.50
    This low-priced tool will handle the bulk of wood and plastic turning and metal turning jobs in the home workshop and do them well. It has sturdy cast iron gap bed 44” long and 3 ½” high. Morse Taper centers, bronze bearings, ball thrust bearing in head. Capacity: work 30 ½” long, discs 10” in diameter.

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    The Mostly Done Kitchen

    Today is the day that I'm going to share the mostly done, "After" photos of our kitchen. I say mostly done because while it looks just fine, there is one more area that we will work on as funds allow. More on that, below. (To see other "before" and "during construction" photos of the kitchen, you can click on this post.)

    I know it's not a great idea to take photos inside at night, but during the day, there is such a glare coming in from the window and the door, I can't get a good picture.  I will have to work on that.

    Introducing: the refrigerator...which was already there, but now the side panel of bead board has been installed and painted:
    Now the "false" front drawers that were under the original sink have been built, painted and installed:

    This is where the sink was relocated, and the window added. Notice that the dishwasher has been relocated to the left of the sink:
    To the left of the sink area, here is where the stove was relocated:
    The wall area above this section is pretty nekkid, and that's where eventually Handy Man will be doing more work. He is going to build some upper cabinets that go with the bottom ones. We have ideas on how we want them to look, including: more bead board, and glass-front doors to show some of our vintage Fiesta Ware collection. 

    You can see the bottom of a white shelf in this photo; we have been working on arranging some objects on two shelves above the stove, but I'm not ready to show those just yet. They are a work in progress, and just a "filler of blank space" until we can get the upper cabinets built.

    Overall view from way back:

    We are very happy with how it came out. Anyone care to remember the "before"?
    Neither would we.  

    Now...let's never speak of it AGAIN.

    Linked to: Funky Junk Interiors/ Between Naps on the Porch

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Paint Coat #2 on New/Old Book Case

    We interrupt this program to bring you the status of our recently purchased new/old book case. Remember the green?
    Here it is, with two coats of white paint so far. Handy Man will put a third coat on it soon. He also decided to take the back piece off; it was kind of flimsy.
    We'll probably leave the back piece off. There is a brace piece on it (see on the shelf second from the bottom?) The book case is sturdy anyway, it will have loads of books on it, and it's going to be up against a wall. I'm thinking it can stay open like that.

    What do you think so far?

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    Winter Maintenance

    Winter is here in New England, and along with it comes plenty of snow. Handy Man has all the tools needed to clean up the snow, including: a snow blower, shovels of different sizes, an ice chopper and a roof rake.

    Yes, you read that correctly. A roof rake. The only people who know what a roof rake is probably live in Northern New England.

    Or Alaska.

    Here is Handy Man, with a ton of extensions on the roof rake, scraping snow off part of our roof so it wouldn't collapse in December of 2008:

    Handy Man also shovels the snow off our back deck. Lots and lots of snow can get wicked heavy, so it needs to be removed so that decks and such don't collapse. Here is the back deck, also in December of 2008:
    No, this is not the frozen tundra, that is really our back deck. And that is our poor grill out there, buried in snow.

    And here is Handy Man, shoveling off the deck again recently:
    Handy Boy even tried to help a bit, but the snow was pretty heavy for him:
    How about you? Do you have any winter chores that you need to do in your neck of the woods? Love winter chores, hate 'em?

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Declutter Challenge for a Monday

    Let's continue our "Declutter 365 items in 365 days" challenge. I hope you have set up some guidelines for yourself. You can check out our guidelines in this previous post

    Today, get a large box or a garbage bag, and set it up in a convenient place. Put it somewhere that you won't trip on it, but where you'll see it easily. This week's challenge is to go through your home and find twenty...yes, twenty items to declutter. 

    It can be stuff that is beyond repair (trash!), stuff that goes in your recycle bin...or stuff that goes into the bag or box for donation. Just twenty things. I bet most of you can find twenty things to get rid of. If you are keeping a list or a tally, mark down when you reach twenty items.

    The photo above is an air conditioner we weren't using any more that Handy Man sold to someone. We have sold things to make money, but only if the item could sell for more than $25 or $50. Its just not worth your time to try to sell lots of small items; especially if you have a bad clutter problem. Forgive yourself, and just toss, recycle, donate and keep going.

    Just for laughs, here are some items that left our house during our 365 challenge last year. Handy Man thought it was silly that I was keeping track of the actual items; I told him I thought it would be funny to look back on:

    - 1 bag of tiny toys/papers from Handy Boy's toy box (counted as 1 item, per our guidelines)
    - 4 old coloring/workbooks of Handy Boy's that he finished

    - plastic baby clothes hangers
    - DVD that doesn't work in the computer (why?)
    - 1 hand towel that had seen better days
    - 2 paperbacks I won't re-read
    - a kit for an art-like project I decided I was never going to do
    - one 3-ring binder
    - 1 set of candles I won as a prize but really didn't like the smell of (WHY was I keeping those?)

    Go ahead and laugh at the silliness of some of these items...and the fact that most of these items are tiny...however, if you keep going, even the tiny items removed will clear out more space in your home. Especially if you can get up to 365 items (or MORE!). For now, just start with 20 items over the next several days and week, and see how you feel.

    Report back here with results...ready, set, Declutter!
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