Archive | October, 2008

Special Presentation: My Hometown Video

October 31, 2008


The kids and I have been spending most of the month of October making a really neat video for a contest. The contest is held by PayU2Blog, a really fun (and profitable) site, and they like to have contests for us from time to time. This video contest is called “My Hometown.” We decided to do a little more than discuss our hometown of New Hartford, NY. We wanted to build it into a little story, as well! So, it’s a little unique, lol.

We hope you like our hometown video! And thanks, PayU2Blog for having a really fun contest!

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More Snow Photos

October 29, 2008


I looked out my window at 7:30 this morning and was surprised to see more snow. I thought yesterday’s snowfall was a fluke, and all the stuff would be gone by today. Nope.

Arbor Snow

My beautiful purple mums that survived the hard frost last week have now bit the dust officially. Can you see their purple blooms beneath the snow?

Snow Mums

It’s unusual to see leaves still on the trees yet.

Tree and Snow

I hope you are not tired of snow photos yet. I’m not! I actually like this season and, if it was warm enough for comfort, would be happy to sit outside and enjoy it around me. We’ve got about 2-3 inches so far in town, and it just keeps coming! In higher elevations, they have several inches.

Yesterday’s storm, unbeknowst to me until I checked the forecast this morning, was a nor’easter, those Northeast equivalents to hurricanes. Nor’easters are swirling air currents which scoop up moisture from the Atlantic in a counter-clockwise motion; if we are also getting cold temperatures streaming in from Canada, we get the moisture in the form of blizzards. This nor’easter has run it’s course, but it kick-started another quirky Northeastern weather condition we call “lake effect,” which is streams of bursts of heavy snow coming from the two Great Lakes east of us (Ontario and Erie). Might be sunny one minute and white-out conditions the next. I live in the Mohawk Valley, the lowest geographic area of the state, so we are more protected from the storms; when I lived by Oneida Lake, we’d easily get 5 feet of snow in a day with one of these storms.

The fire siren went off regularly yesterday, at least four times for my small town of 1,500 people. Lots of accidents, two of them severe that I heard of. šŸ™ I wish people would not drive, or drive very slowly in these conditions. Upstate New Yorkers are some of the best winter drivers, I think, but the first few snowfalls are always rough on unprepared roads.

So we’re home today, cuddled in our blankets. Manhattan Clam Chowder is simmering in the crockpot, and the soothing hum of the laundry dryer fills the background. I hope you are having a blessed day, with or without snow!

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It’s For the Birds!

October 28, 2008


Good heavens, with the snow here now (see previous post), I’m remembering all these things I have to do before winter!! I think our lawn mower is still in the garage, and the show shovels are buried in the shed. And we have a few very wimpy bird houses and feeders that won’t survive the winter unless I pull them all in. We’ve been trying to attract birds (NOT crows, HATE those things!) to help us in our gardening efforts during the summer. We have way too many crows and starlings, and they are dirty and destructive.

So the kids and I have been creating “songbird-friendly” environments for the little critters. Last year we had some lovely cardinals, purple martins, and hummingbirds in the backyard! The chickadees do stay the winter here, but they’ve been finding tastier treats at the neighbor’s house. Hm, we may have a neighborhood bird-feeder war going on around here…

We’ve had to transition from “regular” bird feeders to a fancy squirrel-proof bird feeder. I can’t believe the number of squirrels we have here. And they have ravenous appetites. So either we surround our feeder with machine guns and barbed wire, or we have to have a special anti-squirrel feeder. Else the birds will starve and the squirrels will gorge. I have yet to see any squirrel share his stash, too.

How about you? Do you feed the birds in the winter? Or.. just the squirrels?

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No Business Like Snow Business

October 28, 2008


We’ve got snow! It’s enough to make us New Yorkers say, “Hmm”; but snow in October is not that unusual in these parts.

October Snow

Nonetheless, the first snowfall of the season does wonders for our motivation. I still have leaf piles all over the lawn, and I stiil haven’t sewn the drapes for the doorways, and… !

When I lived near Oneida Lake, I remember as a kid we had a huge snowstorm (2 feet) one October 31st. Halloween was cancelled that night. šŸ˜€

So now we have snow. The kids say they also heard thunder rumbling. We are keeping an eye on our basement sump pump well, as the snow was preceeded by a tremendous amount of rain. So far, so good– all dry!

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Make Your Lamp a Touch Lamp

October 26, 2008


I found the absolutely COOLEST thing at the home improvement store last week! I am still congratulating myself for finding it.

I was looking for a lamp to replace the bad one in our bathroom (YES we have a floor lamp in our bathroom, because we still have no electricity for the room yet! I’m getting to it…). The lamp switch was going bad, and I wanted a touch lamp to replace it. I figured a touch lamp would make it easier than fumbling around for the switch in the dark. I went to several stores, and just couldn’t make myself spend $35 for a touch lamp that I just wanted as a “kick around/temporary” thing in the bathroom. I asked the salesman if he had any other touch lamps, and he showed me an aisle where— lo and behold– there were all these little gadgets and attachments that you could connect your existing lamp to and make the lamp a touch lamp! Wowee!

Touch Lamp pkg

The package is empty because I was so eager to try out the gadget that I didn’t take time to shoot the photo first. Here’s a better photo of the actual gadget.


This particular gadget plugs in to your receptacle, and you plug your lamp cord into it. The gold-colored disk has a lead line (ten feet long). You can place the disk anywhere. I put the disk near the entrance to my bathroom. Ignore the staples. And yes, that is duct tape holding the disk to the wall. I was in a hurry, ok?

Touch Lamp button

You leave the floor lamp switch in the “on” position, and touch the gold disk to turn the lamp on. The disk has three settings- dim, halfway lit, and full lit. The neat thing is that you don’t need a 3-way bulb– you can use a regular 60-watt and this thing will work with those settings. To activate each setting, you just touch that gold disk each time! I just love it!

I don’t think this gadget works with the newer CFL bulbs; I think it only takes the incandescent. So the downside is that I will soon be unable to use this lamp– New York State is making it illegal to buy incandescent bulbs soon (dumb, I know). So either I get on the ball and start wiring this room for electricity, or I stock up on incandescent bulbs. Or, I can smuggle them in from Pennsylvania or New Jersey, maybe…

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Cat Scratch Fever

October 25, 2008


Our new kitten, Olivia, has more than doubled her size now! She was originally the runt of the litter, and you could hold her in one hand at 8 weeks. She is now quite the two or three handfuls, and her Siamese heritage is starting to show, too. She knows her name, but her most favorite word is “Friskies” (the canned cat food).

She’s also been very cat-like, shredding the nice fabric on one of my lovely wing chairs. I was mulling over buying her a cat scratching post at the store, but they didn’t look very durable and were expensive! So two of the children decided to set aside some time, rumble around in the garage for some materials, and build her a bona fide cat-scratching post! It is entirely made from scrap materials (plywood and some old carpeting remnants) and saved me $20!

Scratch Post 3

In the photo, you can see the leg of the wing chair that I do NOT want her to rip up. It’s a very nice wing chair and has been damaged in the past by previous kitties. :S

It’s obvious she loves her new post! Those razor-sharp kitten claws are amazing.

Scratch Post 1

Here’s a photo I took on “Pets” setting. Yes, she IS a blur these days! Keeps us busy…

Scratch Post 2

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The Fabric of Our Lives

October 25, 2008

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If you are like me, you do a lot of sewing this time of year. Now that the hefty summer chores are over, and the rainy season has set in, I spend much more time indoors. We are inthe process of preparing for winter, yet. I know, I’m late this year! I have several sets of drapes to sew, a few pillows, some blankets to finish (and begin) and various other odds and ends around here. My local fabric store recently closed its doors so I’ve been prowling around the Internet looking for fabric stores with good deals.

Here’s a place to go: Robert Allen Fabrics. They have loads and loads of GORGEOUS material, including name brands like Waverly, Laura Ashley, Kravat, Hunter, Burch, and more. The great thing about Robert Allen Fabrics is that they list the country of origin for the fabric. I am becoming more and more aware of what country my products are coming from– and of course I prefer the United States to China. I really like this feature.

The fabrics are beautiful. I think they have a fine selection for anything and everything, including trimmings, stuff for kids’ rooms, and furniture. You can order swatches, too, to make sure your fabric choice is a perfect match for your home decor. Oh my my, and what’s this? I can have drapes custom made for me? Pillows, too? I like this store more and more! They are based in New York City, too, so they’re practically local!

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For You Curious New Readers

October 25, 2008

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Some new readers to my humble bloggy abode have recently been requesting photos and more information about our renovation work here. I haven’t done much renovation this summer, but last summer and the past few years, we worked hard on the gardens, exterior and basement work, and gutting the living room.

I have tried to organize our stories in a convenient manner. Here are some links to click to read about our work and see some of the photos. (Be prepared, some photos are mighty scary!)

I had spent time researching the history of the house and property (it goes back to 1855), and blogged about it here. If you like history, you’ll like this post.

There’s Our Story here, which is a condensed version of the year 2007.

And if you want to know about this crazy family that took on this project eleven years ago, you can read more about it here.

I am in the process of looking for a new template for this blog, where I will be able to list some of our “classics” posts so you can see all the stuff we’ve been doing around here. The blog itself is also a work in progress! But I promise THAT will be done before the next century. Thanks for your questions and thanks for reading about our adventure!

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A Review of Tempurpedic Mattress

October 24, 2008


Our old Sealy Posturpedic mattress had seen better days. I also strongly suspected it as the reason for my spate of back problems. I would wake up in pain every morning and stiffly stagger around most of the early part of the day. I’d researched all sorts of mattresses available, but the number of choices were overwhelming. Reluctantly, I headed over to the furniture store to see what was on the floor (I say reluctantly because I always like to do my homework before encountering a salesman).

I tried all sorts of beds there, and the most comfortable was the Tempurpedic. Tempurpedic is just the brand name for the “memory foam” mattress. Tempurpedic was the first to come out with the memory foam, and they held the patent on it for a decade or so before other companies could manufacture it. Too bad they didn’t name their foam “Disney”; maybe they could have gotten an eternally-renewing patent. :-p

The temperpedic foam is really neat. The foam condenses with the contour and weight of your body. This is said to relieve pressure point pain while sleeping. The mattress is incredibly comfortable.

Foam Imprinting

Foam Imprint

I’d spent a lot of time lookinf for and reading online reviews about the mattress. The biggest complaint I’d read was that the mattress makes you feel very hot. Apparently, the foam doesn’t disperse body heat very well. One person complained of waking up in a “pool of sweat” (ewwww) because it was so hot.

Here in Upstate New York, I didn’t think this would be a terrible issue. It is FREEZING for six months out of the year… I’ll give another update come July, but for now I am really thankful for the heat-retaining properties, especially since I have a teeny-tiny heater vent in my room that just barely oozes warm air. I just love how warm and cozy the bed is. But if it does get too warm in the summer, all you have to do throw a mattress pad on it, and be sure to spray the foam with Febreze once a month. (Yes! I found another helpful use for my Febreze!)

I love the fact that the Temperpedic came with a split foundation. When we moved to this house, we couldn’t get our Sealy queen-size mattress and box spring up the stairs (it’s an enclosed hallway and has a very low ceiling). How did we get the bed into the upstairs when we moved here? Our moving buddies removed the bedroom window and hauled it up with a rope! LOL! Hey, it worked! However, now that we want to get rid of the old bed, we, um, can’t. I don’t think the window could handle being taken apart again (it’s a century old). So we have to bust up the old bed… joy.

New-fangled beds come in pieces. You can see the new split foundation in the photos below. We got a frame with a center bar to support the division between the two. I had feared that I’d be able to feel the division when laying on the bed (the Princess and the Pea syndrome have I), but I don’t. I LOVE the bed.

Split Foundation

You can also see that there are two layers of foam within a lightweight fabric bag. The mattress is supposed to come with a heavier fabric bag that zips up, but we are still waiting for ours. Back on delivery day, an overzealous stockboy sliced through the cardboard box and into the cover when the mattress was being prepped for delivery. I really, really wanted the mattress when scheduled, so the store delivered the bed on time with the promise we’d get the cover by FedEx. Hmm, I’m still waiting for the cover. I think they need to check out their Stackers. Gotta call them about that… (I’m using a store-bought mattress pad for the bed right now).

Mattress Layers

Tempurpedic Top

So my opinion? I love Tempurpedic! It’s so comfortable, I haven’t had any back pain since using it, I sleep better, and it’s warm. The cons are it’s somewhat difficult to ship and install (the foam is extremely dense and heavy, and the lightweight fabric bag is very filmy and thin), and it’s pricier than your “average” mattress. However, I will say that we got a terrific deal on this. It was on sale already, and the furniture store was willing to haggle with us. So we paid the same price for this bed as we would have with a spring-coil mattress and foundation. Definitely haggle if you can, it’s worth it. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons:

Extremely comfortable
No dust mites with this!
Easy to clean (Febreze spray)
Great for people with sore backs

Cumbersome when moving
Needs a special cover

The Tempurpedic memory foam bed gets a thumbs up from Mrs. Mecomber!

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“You Should Own” Interviews Mrs. M!

October 22, 2008


I’ve been interviewed by a realtor in Cleveland, Ohio, Cecilia Sherrard! She runs the You Should Own website. You can go to the site and read the interview here.

I have been reading the New York Renovator Blog for about a year. The updates are filled with humor and reality. I’ve enjoyed following this blog and the work being done to this home in New York. There are many older homes in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and many people buy these old homes to restore. I’ve witnessed amazing after shots and some of the work is stunning. If you’re thinking about rehabbing a century home, you’ll want to check this blog out even if you just need motivation. Also, make sure you read her tips at the bottom of this article. Yes, it’s long, but I think you’ll enjoy her tips and stories. This is my interview with Mrs. Mecomber who is truly a vibrant and energetic mother and wife. She’s now also… a renovator.

I was absolutely floored when Cecilia approached me for an interview. But she said that Ohioans are experiencing much of the same things we in New York are experiencing: a slow economy, high taxation, loss of manufacturing jobs, a slumpy housing market. Lots of us in the Rust Belt states have been unable to buy spanking-new homes (we’re just too busy buying new homes for our politicians, you know) and renovation has become “new again.”

Restoring older homes is not easy. But it is wasteful to junk an old house if it can be restored, and especially if it is less expensive to restore it than to build new. The population booms and busts have left our towns with cavernous lots full of empty houses, overdeveloped acres, and a mess in suburbia. I am one of many rooting for the new class of renovators here in the Northeast!

Thanks, Cecilia, for graciously sharing your webspace with my answers. šŸ˜€

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