Archive | April, 2008

I’m At It Again!

April 29, 2008

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Well, I switched themes again! I have never been completely satisfied with the previous ones. They all had bugs or color schemes I didn’t like, etc. Plus, I’m always moving the furniture around the house, and I guess my blogs are no different. πŸ˜€ I do want to keep this blog colorful (my New York Traveler.net is more “serious”). So I like this theme because of it’s color. But the header needs more personality. What do you think? And if you discover any bugs, would you please use the Contact Form to let me know?

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My Buried Treasure

April 27, 2008

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Several weeks ago, I drove to my local library and saw a beat-up old minivan in the parking lot. It was very beat-up; most of the frame had been rusted through at the bottom. Paint was peeling from the doors, and all the paint was completely gone from the hood, exposing the raw ugly metal beneath. The side-view mirror was bent, and the tires were well worn. I don’t usually pay any attention to cars, but this one caught my eye because it had a bumper sticker on the back bumper. It read:

Don’t let the car fool you. My treasure is in heaven.

It made me literally laugh out loud.

I’d been moping about my kitchen remodel this week (er, rather, my lack of one). But the more I thought about it, the more I remembered a certain psalm. It’s a psalm I remember often, actually, especially when I sometimes skim news headlines. It’s Psalm 73. I’ll quote excerpts.

2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
My steps had nearly slipped.
3 For I was envious of the boastful,
When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 For there are no pangs in their death,
But their strength is firm.
5 They are not in trouble as other men,
Nor are they plagued like other men.
6 Therefore pride serves as their necklace;
Violence covers them like a garment.
7 Their eyes bulge[a] with abundance;
They have more than heart could wish.

11 And they say, β€œHow does God know?
And is there knowledge in the Most High?”
12 Behold, these are the ungodly,
Who are always at ease;
They increase in riches.
13 Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain,
And washed my hands in innocence.
14 For all day long I have been plagued,
And chastened every morning.

15 If I had said, β€œI will speak thus,”
Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children.
16 When I thought how to understand this,
It was too painful for meβ€”
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God;
Then I understood their end.

18 Surely You set them in slippery places;
You cast them down to destruction.
19 Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment!
They are utterly consumed with terrors.
20 As a dream when one awakes,
So, Lord, when You awake,
You shall despise their image.

21 Thus my heart was grieved,
And I was vexed in my mind.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
23 Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
24 You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
26 My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27 For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish;
You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
28 But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD,
That I may declare all Your works.

It spoke to me not to be envious for new kitchen remodels or covet fancy real estate. I do what I can do, and belly-aching about my current plight is not going to help anything. I trust in God, and He’ll take care of things. I’m certainly not saying that new kitchen remodels are bad, or that people are evil who get them! But if my happiness hinges on the amount of stuff I can get, then I am very very poor indeed.

I really want to own a new kitchen and a renovated house. But I do not want those things to own me. I will continue working for and toward those goals, but just like that bumper sticker, “my treasure is in heaven.” LOL, I should get a sticker like that for my back door for all to read who enter!

Don’t let the house fool you. My treasure is in heaven.

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The Big Clean

April 27, 2008

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Spring is here! πŸ˜€ And so is spring cleaning. πŸ™ Thank God the kids are older now, so they can help me. I’ve relegated all the big jobs to them (organizing the disaster that is our garage, and all the vacuuming). Our little bitty 7amp vacuum died a few weeks ago. I got it because it was so small and portable, but we overworked it.

But spring cleaning doesn’t need to be a “chore”! Not with the proper tools, as I have come to find. Number one on the list: good reliable equipment. For you readers in the UK, I’ve seen a website that has a huge selection of industrial and residential cleaners and cleaning supplies. It’s TheBigClean.co.uk. I am amazed at the enormous range of products! All in one place! Everything from carpet cleaning machines, chemical sprayers (I should look into that for my beat-up old house!), cleansers, vacuums, windows cleaners, and even robotic vacuums! I think those things are so cool; I want to try one out someday. I’ve heard that Henry vacuum cleaners are good vacuums, and TheBigClean.co.uk has a wide variety to choose from. Nice machines! I absolutely LOVE the backpack machine! Now, that’s cool!

Don’t want to buy but still need the monster-cleaners? You can rent models. TheBigClean.co.uk offers everything you’d need: pressure washers, floor polishers, vacuums, janitorial supplies, and more! And they also can help you find professional cleaning services through their directory. If you live in the area, you can check out their new showroom at 100 Ewell By Pass, Ewell, SURREY, KT17 2PR. Or, you can use their convenient website to look at models and make purchases online. There’s a telephone number at the website, too, if you have questions.

Cleaning is a chore. The right tools and supplies make all the difference!

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Down in the Dumps

April 26, 2008

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I’m having “one of those days.” I’ve been doing the math, and I’m feeling devastated now! It looks like I probably won’t be getting my kitchen done this year. For six months, I’d been building a small savings as a down payment for a home equity loan. I’ve been blogging for various pay-to-blog companies, saving every bit I could for my renovating project. But in December my husband’s hours at his job were drastically slashed, and he was out of work for three months. I am so grateful I had the money to help with the household expenses, but at the same time the disappointment was bitter indeed. This is my kitchen and I’ve been tolerating it for almost eleven years now.

I’m still blogging and earning money, but now that taxes and the cost of living have spiked, my income is necessary to keep the household going.

I shouldn’t feel so low– last year about this time, I had no money for renovating my living room (the chimney was leaking and we had a severe mildew problem in the room), but managed to scrape up money to gut and restore it. I had to do everything myself (including the electrical wiring), but the room did get done (well, almost– we still have the old windows and there is no baseboard trim/moulding yet). So, what looked hopeless did right itself. I can take comfort in that.

Nonetheless, right now I’m feeling pretty down in the dumps. I had so very much wanted to gut and renovate the kitchen this year. Unless Google gives me my Page Rank back and I start reaping in the dough, I just don’t see how I can do it. πŸ™

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Under Construction

April 25, 2008

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I’veΒ  been having some problems with my current theme for the blog, so I’m trying a few fixes. Therefore things make look a little loopy until I work it out completely. I apologize for the inconvenience and screwy formatting! I’m trying to make this as quick and painless as possible. I’ve got flowers to plant! Thanks for your patience.

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Veggie Tales

April 25, 2008

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We tilled and prepared the two large garden beds Monday. The weather has been wonderful so all the weeds are out in full force, lol. I can’t believe it. We haven’t even mowed the lawn yet, but we’ve had to weed already. Grr. Here’s the play-by-play.

Garden Bed

Weeds are out in full force already!

tn_Tilled 1

Both beds are tilled and raked and ready for the next step– “stringing,” I call it.

tn_String 1

My beds have wooden boards around them (boards taken from the attic floor– they are 150+ years old!). I screwed in small screws every foot all around. I then string the beds with twine, twisting the twine around the screws to hold it taut. You can see I have a few screws loose (hardy har har), but that’s OK, as long as I have a general idea of a foot of space between each row.

I do try to make the garden beds as attractive as possible. […]

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Inspection Day

April 24, 2008

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The last time “he” was here was July 2007, when my living room looked like this:

tn_more-noggin

Today the room looks like this:

lr-today

“He” is the electrical inspector and he visited my humble abode Monday! (OK, so my living room still needs work and a good deal of decor, but at least the walls are closed!).

I took him around the room and then to the basement. I showed him my work and we discussed my methodology.

Here is a photo of my circuit panel. Isn’t it beautiful?!

tn_cb-panel

I’ve been very conscientious about labeling EVERYTHING. I tend to forget things, you see. I even labeled each feed wire with a description of the room and the circuit breaker number. This impressed the inspector. πŸ˜€

tn_cb-2

I even label the junction boxes with the circuit breaker number, and label the wires, as well. I will eventually be adding a few more circuits to this box, so I need to have everything labeled to avoid confusion.

tn_jb-1

I follow the codes stringently, and I keep my electrical work very simple and straightforward. For example, some electricians split their circuits using 12-3 wire, to save space and wire. I use straight-forward 12-2 wire and follow direct lines, even though this means a little extra work and extra wire. Actually, I don’t split circuits because I am not that confident in my abilities. The inspector said my methodology will actually work out to my advantage, because soon the town will be following the 2008 National Electrician’s Code (right now they go by the 2005). The 2008 requires Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters for all receptacles except the GFCI. The AFCIs are very touchy with 12-3 split circuitry (they flip off easily and it is very inconvenient). Read more about it here and here and here. It’s interesting reading. I’m not sold on AFCIs and will not install them unless I have to, to meet regulations. But thank God I am seeing some benefit to taking the straightforward route, as well as the “more is better” route. I use 12-gauge wire and 20 amp breakers only, so I’ve “futurized” the electrical system.

This is the reward I got for my job:

prize

Wooo! Can you feel me beaming?? I am so happy to have everything “official.” Next in line is the kitchen. That room is a DISASTER.

There is something wonderful about studying and working very hard on something very difficult, and seeing that project accomplished. PLUS, it’s terrific saving all this money! I had a quote of $2000 from some electricians to wire my living room. Yet I spent about $200 for all the supplies, and I wired both the living room and the bedroom upstairs. I also was able to add a few worklights just where I like them in the basement, and wire up my washing machine on its own circuit. The possibilities are endless now!

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Quick Tip: Ideas For Free

April 23, 2008

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Before the Internet, I relied on magazines for ideas for decorating and renovating the home. Now, a good portion of my ideas come from bloggers and retailers’ websites. Home improvement websites, such as Lowe’s, Do It Yourself Network, DIY.com (one of my gracious sponsors), and Better Homes and Gardens, offer loads and loads of photos, ideas, and how-to articles. instead of spending money on magazines, i just visit their websites for ideas.

However, I do still like the printed word. So I get free magazines, too! Lowe’s offers free periodicals. There is one for Gardening, Creative Ideas, and Woodworking. I get them two or three times a year. The photographs are a big help. I also visit my local library and check out the many home magazines there. They have This Old House, Old House Journal, Architectural Digest, and more.

Getting ideas does not mean you need to fork out the dough. Get them for free!

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Warm Sunny Sunday

April 20, 2008

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We are enjoying our fifth day of sunshine. Temperatures are summer-style. Today is slightly cooler at 78 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s a quiet Sunday. After the morning church service, the family settled in to small projects. I am catching up on my church notes and on some online writing assignments. The Historian is working on her report for school. Beetle Bailey is working on a large Lego project (but has some Algebra that awaits him). Injane and Sniffy are enjoying the great outdoors. Now that the winter snows are dissolved, the kids have rediscovered the wonders of the metal detector.

metald

Living in an old house on old property can be rewarding for treasure seekers. We’ve found several old coins, including a 1918 Mercury dime and an 1900 Indian Head penny. Plus loads of rusty old horse and buggy hardware, and discarded electrical wiring.

treasure

They are saying that the metal detector is picking up something valuable. But their hole is nigh well a foot deep and nothing much found yet. Lots of ashes. This part of the area used to be the ash dump, I guess. There is an incredible amount of old broken dishes and glass in this yard. It is treacherous to have a garden, as large shards of glass fragments burp up from the soil after the frost heaves of the winter.

Mr. Mecomber is repairing the clothesline– the line we created a few years ago. We’ve discovered that we can hang five or six loads of laundry in one swipe over this blazing-hot asphalt, and it will dry in less than an hour. Some folks might think it’s a lot of work all summer long, but you should see our electricity bills here in New York State! It’s definitely worth it.

The snowplow killed one of our clothesline posts– snapped it in half– so we have to replace it. I’ve got a hole dug for the new one (I have to go buy the new post and some cement yet). Mr. M is trying to remove the jagged portion of the post that sticks up out of the ground.

hubs

And with summer-like temps and summer-like outdoor activities, we also get the summer-like smells of “dairy air,” as Mr. M describes it. Farmers are going high on the hog with manure these days. I don’t think they wait for the manure to ripen anymore. It sure smells fresh. The nearest farm is about 2 miles down the road from us, and pwwweeew, it’s mighty stinky.

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Planting a Grape Vine

April 20, 2008

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We’ve had several sunny days in a row in Upstate New York. A miracle! 80 degrees Fahrenheit, too! People can’t remember when it was so warm in April. I can– it was 18 years ago. I was overdue, expecting my first child. It was brutal, lol.

Anyway, we’ve been taking advantage of the wonderful weather and have begun slaving away at the gardens! Leftover autumn leaves have been raked, large weeds pulled (I can’t believe they are so large already), and we’ve begun planting things. I wish I could get the veggies in the vegetable garden, but we haven’t tilled the beds for those yet.

garden-bed

I’m hoping next week will be the big week. I did get my grape vine in, though! I got it delivered via mail by Johnny’s Selected Seeds. I pray it does well, it costs enough! I think the hardest part will be keeping the deer away. And that will be a very difficult task…

Here’s the play by play in photos. The vine comes bareroot and was packaged quite well. I soaked it in water for a few minutes. It is recommended that the roots soak for 24 hours… but I am too impatient. Once I get going, I need to get going.

soaking-roots

I dug the hole. This was only the beginning. The vine roots were so long that I had to dig a trench! Vine roots need a lot of space. You can’t scrunch them all up in a round hole, or the vine may die. The first year of growth is critical, so planting it correctly is important.

<digging-hole

in-trench

I noticed that the grape vine had begun to bud. This is a poor sign in a bareroot plant because it means the plant has started to come out of its dormant state; but in a grape vine it is not a severe problem. Grape vines continue to produce buds, and are pretty hardy. So even if these buds don’t survive, more will come. Grape vines are also frost hardy (light frosts). Perfect for Upstate NY.

budding

Here’s the finished product. I have to get more mulch and add more. It may be 80 degrees this week, but next week– who knows? Mulch will give the roots extra protection until the plant is established.

planted

I’m looking forward to table grapes and maybe even some wine in the future!

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