Saturday, January 19, 2013

Project Fail

This project fail wasn't my fault, but that doesn't make me feel any better about it.

 We live in an old house that we've been working on fixing-up/remodeling for years. Years, because I didn't inherit my Dad's artistic/creative mind/soul, darn it, and I didn't have Pinterest.
Worse, J is apparently even less creative-thinking than me, and that's saying something. Like, I have none, so he has less than none.

So he depends on me to design what I (think I) want, and he tries to implement it. Usually he gets started and my "vision" isn't looking in reality what it looked like in my mind. Then I get discouraged and abandon the project and start another.

Well I didn't know what I wanted. Thing is, I practically grew up in old houses like this one. My Grannie's house had wooden plank walls, and I did not like them. When we inherited J's Grandpa's house it had wooden plank walls, and I had him cover them up with sheetrock.

Image: Moon Meadow Farm

But now, thanks to Pinterest, I see how lovely the wooden plank walls actually are, and are exactly what I need for my old farmhouse style!

Image: Sweet Pickins

Someone else apparently didn't like the wooden plank walls here before me, and I guess they tore them out during the 1970's remodel when they put up the ugly, cheap pecan paneling.

Image: The Inspired Room
I can't afford to put real wooden planks on the walls, so I was looking for an alternative idea.

Image: Pinterest

I happened to come across a fantastic deal on some MDF wall panels at Lowe's.  These 1/4-in x 5-3/8-ft x 8-ft wall panels on sale/clearance priced at only $5.98 each. (Regular price then was $11.66. Now they are priced $17.98.)

Screen shot of the webpage that is still on there as of
9:49pm on 1-19-13, showing 5-3/8-FT
I ordered 10 at one store, all they had left in stock, and 8 at another store, all they had left in stock, and today we set out to go pick up my new "wooden" plank walls.

When we get to the first store, they hadn't pulled my order, so they go to pull it and come back and they only have 4 in stock, not the 10 that I ordered, but worse, they were 5-1/2-INCHES, not 5-3/8-FEET as advertised.

Unfortunately I had forgotten to print out my order sheet so I couldn't prove to them that yes I did order 5-3/8 FEET sheets, not 5-1/2-INCH strips.  The cashier's computer/register showed 5-1/2-INCHES, so she just thought I was a dumb chick that couldn't tell the difference between inches and feet.

Soooo disappointing.

What I Said...

...wasn't what she heard, LOL!

With my brother-in-law having lost his job, he &  my sister were interested in the coupon/deal shopping that I do, where I save 50 - 100% on groceries and never pay for things like toothpaste, floss, shampoo, etc.

So recently she called me to tell me how they'd done with their CVS shop, and at some point in the conversation she mentions that, "and next month, for our 31 days thing, we're going gluten free, in honor of you."

I said, uh, ok...what 31 days thing?

She said, the one I had told her about (when we were visiting with them after Christmas), where you give up something for 31 days. This month, she says, we gave up soda. In March, they're going to give up sugar.

"We sacrifice something for a month, isn't that what you told us?"

What I was talking about was a "31 Days of Nothing" challenge, where you try to spend the least amount of money as possible for January.

To save on gas, stay home. Eat from your stockpile/freezer. No eating out. No shopping except for necessities like baby formula, milk, produce.  No books, clothes, toys, or any other impulse buys. No manicure/pedicure or haircuts. Nothing spent on entertainment.

It was about frugalism, saving money, learning to handle money more wisely.
I guess that could be considered as sacrifice by some, lol.

It reminded me of that game "Telephone Line", where a person tells another person a secret, and that person tells another, and so on, and then the last person tells what he/she heard, which is usually nothing like what it started out as, only minus about 10 people, lol.

Another thing I said to my BIL while we were visiting was about how any time I try to save for a new roof or heat/air system for the house, something happens.  I get a little put back and there'll be a dental emergency,  or a vehicle will break down, or something else will come up. No joke, it never fails.

So I was doing my finances the other day and we had $1600 in checking, with a paycheck due this week. I decided I would pay the couple of bills already due, then the rest when this week's check came in, and put $1k into savings for an emergency fund. (I didn't even dare say it was for a roof or heat/air system.)

Didn't matter, same effect.
A day later my oldest son calls me up and tells me he lost his financial aid at school.  Long story, but I felt like they kind of screwed him, so we gave him the money.

Not only that, over the course of the past year I put away $20 from every paycheck into savings for Christmas. I did it every time, and it built up all the way to Black Friday, when I started spending the heck out of it. Worked out great.

So this year I started my Christmas Savings fund again and stuck $20 in one savings account, and then I stuck another $20 in another savings account for an emergency fund.
I've already ended up having to spend out of that emergency fund twice!

What the heck is up that? Does anyone have any idea?  Have you ever heard of someone(s) who absolutely just can not have an emergency fund, or be able to save for big repairs on their house?
What do I/we need to do to break this curse, I wonder??

Friday, January 18, 2013

Where To Put the Food?

My kitchen remodel is still a work in progress after several years, mostly because I never have loved the way the cabinets looked. They are too tall! I think the kitchen sink hits at about my diaphram.

Up until this week I had an island with stools in here and the cabinets didn't look as odd, but I have wanted and wanted an eat-in kitchen until I finally decided to try putting this old kitchen table I had out on my back porch in there. It's a bit of a tight fit, but I kind of like it. Except it looks so weird, because the cabinets make it look like a miniature dollhouse table or something.

I've decided we'll attempt to cut a few inches off the base cabinets, and then lower the upper cabinets. What's the worst that can happen, we'll ruin them and have to get new cabinets? Wouldn't hurt my feelings a whole lot...other than the money we'd have to spend again, but I need to be happy in my kitchen, and these cabinets, as they are, make me sad.

So does this thing. This storage set-up was in my laundryroom/pantry before we built on a new laundryroom/pantry and made the original laundryroom/pantry into an entry/mudroom. I have my dishes, glasses, pots, pans, baking pans, glass pans, Tupperware and stuff like that in my kitchen cabinets, so I needed a place to put Food, so we moved this thing into the kitchen to put food stuffs: cereal and breakfast items, chips, snacks, canned foods, pasta, condiments, and so on.

I don't like this thing anymore, I'm sick of looking at it, and I have other plans for that wall. But, I can't move it out until I can figure out where to put the food.

In the pantry, right? Thing is, the pantry isn't connected to the kitchen. It's not a nice, neat little closet with shelves. You have to go through the mudroom and what is basically out to the enclosed part of the back porch and there's a room with a washer, dryer, and a couple of big, black plastic shelves where I keep my stockpiles of food. Not handy, readily available to grab when I'm in the kitchen cooking foods.

My question is, where do people with not many kitchen cabinets in the kitchen put their food?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Christmas Organization

Although I had planned earlier in the month to try the "31 Days of Nothing" challenge again this year, I felt that my de-hoarding-home-clean-up project was important enough to spend money on.

I kept my more important Christmas stuff like the ornaments I've made, and the boy's made at school as kidlets, and that family have made or bought for me in a rubber tub.  The rest of the stuff is mostly in paper or plastic grocery bags.
I used to keep most of it stored out on the enclosed front porch I used as a storage room for many years, until I cleaned it out last year, then the stuff ended up turning an upstairs bedroom into another storage room, that I've been working on trying to get cleaned out.

I needed to be able to store my Christmas stuff in the attic, which I couldn't do without putting the stuff into rubber tubs to protect it. Last time I put stuff up there in boxes and bags, squirrels and/or mice pretty much destroyed everything.

So I went to Wally World and bought some tubs and hauled all my Christmas stuff down to sort through and pack away.  I thought I would get rid of some of it, but I ended up only letting 2 things go.
To give me credit, though, a couple of years ago when I cleaned out the carport storage room I let a lot more go. A lot more. Probably better than 90% of all the Christmas stuff I used to have.

And then I ran into Dollar General for a bag of cat food. And stepped into the danger zone. Christmas stuff, 70% off.  Now usually I'd scoff at 70% off, because I'm more of 90% off shopper, but 70% off $1.00 made some things 30¢ and they were worth 30¢! How could I possibly pass them up??

There were some rolls of ribbon, and some really cute little decorated houses packages I can put candied pecans or candy or some other kind of treat in for gifting next year.

The little bundles of metallic colored ribbon was only 15¢ each.

And that's why I usually stay out of the stores during January. I find too much stuff I think I need at prices I can't possibly pass up.

While emptying bags and sorting through stuff, I came across this lovely painted piece of slate rock I had no idea I had, where it came from, or who painted it for me. I need to ask my sister, it could have possibly been my brother-in-law's stepfather.  She asked me for some pieces of slate rock (my yard is full of them, we live in the slate-rock capital I think) for him to paint on, but I don't remember receiving a painted one from him.
The picture doesn't do it justice, it's really gorgeous and I'm not sure why I had it packed away rather than displayed.

*This post is boring, but I guess I needed to pat myself on the back for getting the Christmas stuff done. And encouragement to keep on keeping on.  The last thing I attempted to get through was some of the boys' old toys and games and I came to a complete stand-still.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

They Draw and Cook

A couple of days before Christmas, J was sleeping off a night on the ambulance so I was trying to be quiet, plus I was too cold to get very far from my little space heater under my desk anyway, I was randomly surfing the 'net as I do sometimes, just to see what I might come across, and I ended up stumbling over one the.most.amazing.sites I have seen! 

It's called They Draw and Cook, a brother and sister team - he cooks, she draws. They teamed up, and she illustrates his recipes. Eventually they started a blog and invited readers to send in their illustrated recipes.

O-mah-gah, they are awesome!  You have to check this site out!

The pages are a fantastic combination of Art, Scrapbooking, Illustrating, Paper Crafting, and Recipe-ing.

I could (and likely have) spend hours at this site looking at all the gorgeous creations!

You can print any of the recipes at home, or they have published 3 books featuring the illustrated recipes that you can find at Amazon.

They Draw and Cook: 107 Recipes Illustrated by Artists from Around the World

The Best Illustrated Cocktail Recipes: Created by Artists from Around the World (Volume 1)

The Colorful Vegetarian: 30 Colorfully Illustrated Recipes (Volume 1)

I can't get enough of these things!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Nice Weekend

We're having an unusually warm January weekend...or maybe this is going to be the new norm, considering we also had a warm'ish Winter last year.  Today was really warm, about 73*.  The sky was overcast and grey and looked bad.  Usually if the sky looked like that and it was 73* in January we'd be expecting to get blown away by that evening. But no, strangely, no severe weather in our forecast.

J got a new radio for his truck for Christmas and finally got around to installing that today. We had to go to Walmart for some kind of wiring thing, and they had their red & green rubber storage bins on clearance for $3.00.  I didn't care what color they were, they're going into the attic, not on display. I stocked up while they were so cheap. Usually they're $6.97 and I knew I would be needing more of them as I go along with my de-hoarding project.

I was hanging around outside and saw that our Spring flowers "Johnny-jump-ups" (Jonquils) were already starting to grow. Usually they don't until later in February or sometimes into March.

I was kinda kicking the leaves around, or something, anyway I noticed a whole bunch of bulbs growing inside one of the cement blocks, just like right there on top of the ground.

I decided since they were right there for me to just pick up without having to dig them up, I'd take them and plant them somewhere else in the yard.  But where?

A couple of years ago we built a shed to put our lawnmower and trailer and various other stuff, but designed the front of it to look like a little old'ish house (still needs detail work done to complete the effect).  Anyway I wanted big, beautiful bushy Hydrangea bushes growing all across the front of it.

My Mom has a plethora of Hydrangea, so she dug me up 4 plants and brought for me to plant.
Turned out it wasn't an ideal place for them to grow.  After quite a few years now, one of the plants had died and the other three lived, but didn't thrive. They got some green leaves, and one bloomed some colorless flowers, but they didn't grow.
Mom said Hydrangea grew fine or better in partial sun, but after I got to noticing other people's big, beautiful bushy Hydrangea, and even Mom's, they are in full sun.

The front of this shed faces West, so the Summer sun comes up from behind the building and the Hydrangea were only getting late evening sun, and I think that just wasn't good enough.

The Jonquils, however, grow in front of the house/carport, which also faces West, so I fairly well know, at least as far as sunlight goes, it should be exactly the same growing conditions in front of the lawnmower shed.

So I dug up the Hydrangea and relocated them to the side yard out back, and planted a row of the Jonquils in front of the lawnmower shed instead.

Not the big, beautiful bushy Hydrangea I was hoping for, but I think a row of yellow Jonquils will look nice across there (if they grow). They're a Spring flower, so I considered adding a climbing rose bushes behind them, where they'd climb up the front/side of the shed.  No idea how they'd grow there, though.

Speaking of the climbing roses, last May I cut some pink miniature roses from the ancient church cemetary across the road and started conducting an experiment to see if I could root them and grow a new plant.

I attempted 3 different techniques: (1) Rooting a stem in a glass of water, (2) Sticking a stem in dirt, and (3) Sticking a stem in dirt and placing a mason jar over the top.

This is the one I put in a bottle of water and it grew some roots and I planted it in a pot. I brought it inside when the weather was cold, and took it outside to get some sun when the weather was milder, and kept it watered.  It's still mostly alive. Kitty ate the leaves off it, though.

The one I just stuck into the dirt doesn't seem to have survived, while the one I stuck into the dirt and covered with a mason jar seems to be doing well.

What I don't know is, how it would have fared if I hadn't brought it inside when the temps dropped to freezing and we got a frost.
If I cut more stems, and plant them directly into the ground where I want them to grow and cover them with a jar, will they grow, or will they freeze and die?  I'll have to remember to try that next time and see.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Oh My Stars!

I went to look to buy some more of the Lucky Star origami paper strips, and the arrival dates were saying like between Feb. 4th and 17th.  When I was busy at Christmas the long delivery date wasn't a big deal, but now I'm addicted to these things, I needed my fix sooner!

While I was looking around for a more local source, I happened on this video that not only tells about making the paper strips yourself, but recycling catalogs to do it! OMG! I love recycling stuff! Now I can make all the stars I want without spending a dime!!

I have a stack of catalogs and magazines not yet carried off to the recycle bin at the convenience center so I went and looked for a colorful one and found a Cabela's catalog.
I used the front page of it because the paper was thicker. I don't yet how the other pages are going to work.

Of course my paper cutter is hiding from me atm (I can never seem to find anything until I'm not looking for it) but no biggie, I used a ruler to mark 1cm spaces at the top and bottom, then used my ruler to draw a line all the way down the page. Cutting along the line was pretty easy.

I already love these "Hunter" colored stars better than the glittery ones I did before.

Lucky Stars Update

Aaannnd I've used up all my paper strips.

I neeeeed mooooore.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Lucky Stars

I ran across Lucky Stars by accident one night while surfing the 'net looking at Christmas Ornament ideas.

I saw this idea for a clear ball ornament filled with Lucky Stars. I thought the Stars were really cute, and the blogger claimed they were really easy-peasy to make.

I watched the instructional video about how to make them, and it did look pretty easy. I tried out a few on my own using regular white paper and they turned out "Okay".
I think mostly I just needed practice, but I thought it was the paper, so I jumped on eBay to look for some.

I bought about 40 pcs of glittery, sparkly paper strips for $1.88 and free shipping. They were coming from Hong Kong so it was going to be a bit of a wait, but that was okay because I was busy with Christmas anyway.

The strips arrived a couple of days ago and I had to watch the video again, but sat and folded out like 5 Lucky Stars before I even knew it.

Even with the special paper strips, I still need more practice. Mine tend to come out lop-sided for some reason.
Next time I want to look for those pastel colored strips like in the video. They look like candy, or marshmellow stars.

They're really pretty addictive. I have the envelope of strips sitting here on my desk and find myself almost mindlessly reaching for one and starting to fold it up.  I've used up over half of my paper strips already!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Dollar Store Christmas Tree Ornaments

While I was out shopping at the Dollar Tree store one day, I ran across these little wooden, wheeled toys. It occurred to me I could make them into Christmas tree ornaments!

All I needed to do was add an eye hook, which I already had in my handy-dandy picture-hanging kit at home (that I probably had also gotten from the Dollar Tree). I just used my needle-nose pliers to screw the eye hook in to the tops of the trucks.

Then I used some gold cord from my craft bag stash to tie on a "hanger".

Viola' !

Monday, January 07, 2013

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Late, I know, but there's been this crazy phenomenon happening around here lately that, my days have gotten shorter. There's less hours in them or something.

I wake up (generally) between 6 - 8am, find a project to get started on, and bam, it's bedtime.

December flew by like, shoom! Gone. I'm not sure how I managed to be ready for Christmas. One of those Christmas miracles, I reckon.

We went on the 13th to our favorite Tree Farm and picked out our Christmas tree.

Some years ago I figured out getting the tree *about* 12 days before Christmas was just the right amount of time; not too long, not too little. Well, this year it seemed too little. It seemed like we had it just a few days.

I got presents ordered/bought and wrapped, and made some of my annual "Christmas Treats":

White Chocolate Covered Oreos & Pretzels
Chocolate Covered Oreos & Pretzels
Rice Krispy Treat "Wreath"
(using my Bundt cake pan and green plastic wrap)
(Red Hots "berries" not pictured)

New this year, I made "Candied Pecans" using the Pecans we picked up from the backyard and I shelled.  I made some little gift bags of them and gave as gifts (along with Rice Krispy treat wreaths) at our family get-together at my Aunt's on Christmas Eve day.

My oldest and his GF came up Christmas day and I made a pot of homemade vegetable soup and we had a nice Christmas day together.

I talked to my Mom on Christmas day. We usually go down to see them and visit my sister and her family the week after Christmas, but I didn't plan to this year. But then she said my sister/family wasn't coming to see them either. Kind of understandable since my sister has a new'ish baby (who doesn't love to travel) and besides that her husband is out of work and they don't really have the money to drive several hours, when my parents have no kids at home, no ties to home, and the money wouldn't put a hardship on them. But my Dad didn't want to go. Ugh.

So I felt sorry for Mom not having any of her kids visit for Christmas so I called up my Aunt and asked her if she wanted to ride down and visit Mom....and Dad.  I didn't feel like we could go that far (6-7 hours) and visit my parents without going on and visiting my sister, too, even though it's another 4 hour drive.

We drove down on the 26th, spent the next day with Mom & Dad, drove the next day to my sister's, spent the whole day with them, then drove back home on the 30th.

When we got back, J asked me what kind of pictures I'd taken while we were down there, and I hadn't taken a single one! How strange of me.

Then we went to my Aunt's on January 1st to eat New Year's Day dinner and I usually take pictures on the first day of the new year of the boys, whatever relative is around, the food, and whatever else catches my eye that seems "New Years-y" or worth recording for posterity.
Nope, didn't even get my camera out.

I guess two-oh-one-three
is going to be the year
We're not going to see