Archive | October, 2010

Couldn’t Wait…

October 20, 2010

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I hung my beautiful giant clock up in the kitchen. I had promised myself to wait until the kitchen was completely finished, as a means of motivating me to keep on keeping on with this endless project, but I just couldn’t wait. I couldn’t!! The clock was BEGGING me to go up on the wall.

BigKitchClock

The thing is huge, and weighs perhaps 20 or 30 pounds. I was no mean feat hanging this sucker. Because there is no central stud on this wall, I had to cut open the drywall, insert a block of wood between the two flanking studs, and patch the drywall back in. It took about 4 days (spackle had to dry, we had to repaint the area, etc etc). But FINALLY, it is up! I absolutely love it.

It goes with the kitchen design so well, has that bronze-y finish and an “Old World” feeling. It matches the ceiling fans exactly.

Below the clock will be a long mantle-like shelf. My iPod dock will sit on it. Yes! We got an iPod dock! My Hubs picked it, and it is really high-quality. I’ll have more on that, later. And oh yeah- under this mantle shelf will go a heater… whenever we get those installed. šŸ˜ The forecast calls for flurries on Friday! I’m a little nervous because the basement window is still not filled in, and we have no gas lines for heaters yet. :S Both The Hubs and I have been totally swamped at work, and have absolutely no free time at all. *sigh*

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Plugging Holes For Winter

October 19, 2010

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I’m busy trying to get all my Internet writing work done these days, and at the same time, scrambling around trying to winterize before the snow falls (which, they say, will occur Friday morning). Eeep! I’m not ready for winter. I mean, I’m READY— there’s nothing I’d like more than to cozy up in front of a toasty fire, cuddled up with cat and blanket. But we have a LOT of loose ends to wrap up before anything cozy goes on in this house. For one, there’s this:

Basement Window2

Yes, that’s a hole in my basement window. The window fell out.

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That’s the original 1855 basement window. The old cut nails are still in it. It had been patched at some point in the past 100 years or so, but I’m amazed it’s lasted this long. We have a few other ones that are seeing their demise, now.

Rather than figure out how on earth to replace the window (and figure out how we’d afford the custom craft), we decided to close off the window. This area of the house is extremely soggy, and water tends to pool beside it. Instead of exacerbating a water problem by keeping a hole here, closing off the window will seal out the moisture. Next year, we’ll remove all the top soil and lay a slab of concrete, to further direct water from the roof from collecting here.

I’ve got some kids who help me haul the concrete, and mix it. Yay!

BasementWindow3

I lay a thin layer of sand mix to give the cinder blocks something to grab as they sit in there. After the first row of blocks, I fill them with concrete. Then I slather another layer of sand mix, and add another row of blocks. I will eventually smooth out the entire side, to make the wall look seamless.

This is just the first row of blocks. I have since added two, and need to wedge in a narrow third before the window is entirely sealed off. Problem is, I’ve been SO swamped with work that I haven’t been able to get back out to the project.

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I’d better hurry. We have a mass of water and drain pipes right in front of this hole. God forbid they should freeze.

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Find the Kitty Friday, Late Edition 10/15

October 15, 2010

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Find the Kitty Friday

Where the action is, there is Livvy.

LIvvyHelpingLaundry2

We finally got the gas dryer installed. The Hubs installed the gas line. It’s actually not a very difficult task (yea, SHE says, haha!). The key is perfect measurements for the gas pipes. We were going to hire our plumber to do the work, actually, but changed our minds over the summer. We found out that our plumber had taken a few dangerous short cuts when he installed the gas line for us a few years ago. He’d used one of those flexible stainless steel pipes (coated with yellow plastic) to rig up to the main gas service line pipe. He then stuck it up into a hole into the laundry room, attached a flange on the end, and connected another yellow flexible gas pipe from the flange to the dryer. Plumbing codes say that for main service gas lines, you have to use solid, black pipe.

One we saw how non-complicated it is to install your own pipe, we decided to do it ourselves. It’s also saving us upwards of $1000. The hardest part is making accurate measurements. You also must test for leaks with soapy water. I also test for leaks with my very sensitive nose. šŸ˜€

So anyway, we got the dryer installed. THANK GOD. I had been carting 15+ loads of laundry every week to the local laundromat all summer. WHAT a chore. Of course, as soon as we get the dryer installed, Livvy wants to be a part of the action. I love this cat. Everything is new and exciting to her, even laundry. LOL.

LivvyHelpingLaundry

Yet we still have no heaters, downstairs. We have an electric space heater for the most chilly of days, and are bundling as best as we can in blankets. The heaters require more gas lines, and The Hubs has not had any time to get them installed yet. I tried to encourage him, by patting him on the back after doing such a great job with the dryer line.

“Thank you so much! It’s works great!! Are you happy about such a job well done?”

“It’s over,” was all he said.

šŸ˜

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Signs of Autumn

October 15, 2010

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The fall season is so brief here in the Northeast; at least, it has been for several years now. The days are gloomy and rainy, and the winds blow off the leaves before we have much of a chance to enjoy the brilliant colors. Winter will soon be here! The temperatures have been unseasonably chilly. I still have a slew of winterizing yet to do. And we don’t even have the heating system installed downstairs yet! :-O I also have to tuck in my flower beds in for their long winter’s naps. So much to do, and so little time to do it.

So the signs of autumn are quickly blending into the signs of winter.

Mottled sunshine on a frosty lawn.

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Long shadows.

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Colorful trees. These are Sugar Maples. They usually turn a brilliant orange in the fall, but oddly, this year they are yellow. Don’t know why. All the rain, maybe?

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Dried, bald-headed Susans in the flower beds. I really need to get out there and clear out the gardens. I am usually much more “on the ball” with such things. After the summer-long renovation and my intense work load, I am not motivated, nor do I have much time.

Fall_Susans

Just a taste of the raking chores yet to come. But the smell of leaves is marvelous.

Fall_leaves

Livvy watching leaves fall.

Fall_Livvy

So how is your autumn “turning” out? Are you busy with preparations, or are you relaxing after a busy summer?

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Housing Armaggedon?!

October 15, 2010

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I don’t know a whole lot about the housing market, but like most other things, I figure such issues are easily understood with a healthy dose of common sense. There’s a blog post story in the Wall Street Journal (yes, I guess even the high-brow WSJ folks blog! lol!) blogs.wsj.com/developments/2010/10/12/are-we-headed-for-housing-armageddon Are We Headed For Housing Armageddon? It’s interesting. In a nutshell, the article describes a new twist in the housing market “crisis”: banks are unable to hold foreclosures due to improperly transferred paperwork from banks to homeowners; Apparently, during the housing boom, some banks were a little sloppy with their paperwork in their eagerness to get lenders. Now that banks want to foreclose for non-payment, homeowners with savvy lawyers claim that the absence of mortgage paperwork absolves them from bank foreclosure. Judges may rule that, due to the absence of proof of original lending agreement paperwork, the banks cannot foreclose on the homes.

Wild!

So the chatter around the water cooler is that this will only prolong the housing market bust. According to Amy Calistri of Street Authority, mortgage debt in the United States fell by $99 BILLION in the first quarter of this year. In the second quarter, it dropped again, half that.

It’s pretty obvious that Americans are not buying new homes! This is good. Seriously. For one, I think our economy relies too much on new construction, particularly when there are billions of older homes that are perfectly suitable for use. All this excessive and new construction causes sprawl, eats up rural resources and creates more debt. I think we should change our attentions away from newnewnew, and begin to recycle the very good homes that exist currently. My home, built in 1855, is a fine example of making something old new again. And every single inspector that has looked at my house raves about the strength of the structure– “They don’t make homes like they used to,” they all say. So all this talk about a “housing armageddon” is, I think, a little overstated. It may be a housing armageddon for the banks, but for the average American and the average traditional American pre-owned home, it’s housing heaven.

Another result of the housing market turned upside down is the apartments industry. Again, according to Street Authority:

But the decline in home buying is starting to trigger an increased demand for rental apartments. Apartment occupancy rates rose to 92.2% in the second quarter of 2010, up from 92.0% in the first quarter according to Reis Inc. Rents are also starting to rise modestly, up +0.7% in the second quarter.

Apartment occupancy rates rose 92% ?!? That’s incredible! This is a radical change in the housing industry in our country. Now, I’m sure not everyone can afford a posh luxury apartment after foreclosing on their homes, right? This opens up an entirely new demographic after the housing boom of the 90s. The “experts” say that the backbone of the American economy is home ownership. I don’t know if this is true– is it? As I have already stated, home ownership requires bank loans. So the backbone of the banking industry is home ownership, to be sure.

I am wary of all the Chicken Littles running around, trying to make us anxious about the “crises” that face us, when in reality, most of the “crises” that exist are for the banks. It’s unfortunate that some folks lose their homes, yes. But as far as ruining our economy– I really wonder if this is true. If anything, Americans are focusing on making more with less (not necessarily a bad thing), and people are looking for apartments (which encourages cities and landlords to clean up and fix up their areas). We are, by nature, a resilient people. We will adapt and adjust to changes. I do not think the housing market shifts constitute the end of the world. Perhaps this is as good a time as any to return to the good old Yankee work ethic:

Use it, wear it out. make it do, or do without.

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VERY Displeased with Retail Stores Lately…

October 11, 2010

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WARNING: Rant ahead. If you only like to read happy flowery post, please skip this post and read my others! LOL

You’d think that will ALLLLL the heavy competition steeped against retail (local) stores these days, they’d be willing to bend over backwards to offer quality products and good service. Nope! I have had a very bad week with several of my local retailers, enough to sour me something serious. I do a lot of online shopping, so I guess I am spoiled. The online stores treat me well, offer deals and discounts, and ship the stuff (most of the time) extremely fast. AND they also send the CORRECT products!

We got a new washer this past week. New York State has this great rebate program going on right now (on a first come/first serve basis). Our old washer was 17 years old, and had sprung an oil leak while in the basement. I didn’t want to have oil all over my new kitchen flooring…. and rather then pay an appliance guy to labor over a very old model, we just decided to get a new one. And with the rebate, we got a phenomenal deal! But time is of the essence with these things, ya know? We have to submit the rebate information before the time/money is out.

So we had the washer delivered. Well, KIND OF. They called at SEVEN O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING, said they’d be here at 9am, and showed up at 8am. šŸ˜ Then, they delivered the wrong model!!! They delivered the store display model!! It had dents and dings and no manual and NO rebate information.

So I had them send it back. I wanted my new washer. It took them all day to get their act together, and finally arrived at the end of the day (I do wonder if they installed my washer at someone else’s house and had to make a switch before coming to my house… hmm…) …

So they finally delivered the new washer… it was not in the original box… but on a dolly, uh huh…. but it came WITHOUT the manual and warranty and REBATE INFORMATION!

šŸ™ Yeah, you can tell where this is going.

So the delivery guys promised me they would have the information for me first thing in the morning– they’d place it in my mailbox.

Never came.

OK, so maybe they are busy delivering wrong appliances to everyone and are so very, very busy. I waited til the next morning.

Never came.

:S Hello, we have to get that rebate info in! And I want my manual!

Well, I called the store, and basically got the run around. The guy in the appliance department said that he had checked the washer before sending it on to the delivery guys, and he had included the manual with the washer, it must be there. And then he said I don’t need any more rebate information, because the store receipt will do. Yadda yadda. He *basically* called me a liar because he said he included the manual with the new washer and I must be wrong…. and *basically* called me dumb because he says I don’t need rebate information when I said I did (he later changed his mind when he remembered that we need the paperwork because they hauled the old washer away).

It’s really a shame. I spent upwards of $5000 at this store this summer, renovating the kitchen. I won’t directly name the store, but they are a national home improvement center that isn’t very High’s in my opinion… :-p I’m sure they must be busy with lots of sales due to the state rebate opportunity, but I would LIKE to have my purchased, proper appliance delivered AND I’d LIKE to have all my paperwork!! What the heck am I paying them so much money for?!?!

I think I love online shopping more and more…

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Buying Household Supplies Online

October 11, 2010

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Hey! I have some great news for you online shoppers and deal hunters! Buy.com has a new department called Household Essentials! You can buy household cleaning supplies, dry goods, bath and shower supplies, baby stuff, pet supplies and more in the department. I LOVE it. I dislike shopping at retail stores very much– the traffic (which is INSANE around here), the crowds, the cranky people, the rush-rush-rush of the rat race…. I like to buy stuff online as much as I can. Buy.com has been a Godsend during our renovation– I’ve ordered quite a bit of stuff from them. It not only saves me money but saves me time, too.

Buy.com combines the bets of the best in online household stores: Alice, ANTOnline, Baby Universe, Tool District, UnbeatableSale and others. The prices are very good and the shipping is free. Plus, Buy.com provides some really nice specialty items for great prices! If you like to make gift baskets for the holidays, you can order all sorts of delectable, exotic products and have everything shipped to your door. Can’t beat that!

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Livvy and the Yorkies

October 9, 2010

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The daughter gave the Yorkie pups baths (finally, haha).

Why do dogs, no matter what breed, smell like wet newspapers?

Anyway, she brushed their coats and they were glistening– really squeaky clean. Aren’t they so cute!

bafftme2

The Yorkies are AMAZINGLY silent and good when they are carried around. They don’t wiggle, they don’t bark.. they are as docile as anything. They are good dogs.

Because they were so quiet and docile, Livvy’s curiosity was intensely piqued.

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LivvyDogs1

She came over to investigate. I was very surprised when she poked even closer.

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LivvyDogs5

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I think Livvy would love to be friends and play with them, if only they would stay quiet. As soon as my daughter put the dogs in their pen, they scuttled around and started yipping. Livvy had had enough. Off she went. The dogs had no idea that they missed a great opportunity to make such a marvelous feline friend!

Moz&Cricketinpen

I just love my kitty. She is so innocent and curious. šŸ˜€ She does like the dogs, except for their noise.

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Treat Your Mailman

October 9, 2010

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The Hubs delivers mail from time to time. I never knew how difficult delivering the mail can be. I guess I never really appreciated the mail service much before, never even thought of it before this. Delivering the mail is HARD! It is repetitive motion: push gas pedal, steer to side of road, push brake pedal, open mailbox, stuff mail in, close mailbox, push gas pedal…. on some routes, the mailman has to do this 500 or more times, all within a few hours… and then there’s doing it in the snow, up the hills, and in the dark!

All that mailbox opening and closing is tough on the hands. The mailman can’t wear gloves because he needs to be able to handle endless stacks of junk mail all day as well as open and close boxes. The Hubs says the cheapo metal boxes are the toughest, because the clasp is just a curved tab, and the closing mechanism wears out quickly. By the end of the day, his finger is raw from opening and closing all the boxes. So when someone installs a nice, new mailbox, especially a pretty, roomy one that opens and closes easily, it brings great joy to the mailman.

We have a cheapo metal mailbox. šŸ˜ Oops.

Gonna fix that, now that I know what a tough job the poor mailman has. Amco has a lot of mailbox selections and styles, in all sorts of colors. The amcomailboxes.com is lovely, perfect for a city setting. You can browse the mailboxes and see for yourself how pretty they are. They are constructed of aluminum, and won’t rust. They are all ornate, loaded with character!

So do your hard-working mailman a favor: keep the mailbox free of bees, hornets, and ants. Keep your mailbox in good repair. Maybe even leave a cookie or an apple for the guy. And definitely get a nice box that is easy on the mailman’s hands. He will appreciate it so much. šŸ˜€

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Why Is Stuff So Junky These Days?

October 9, 2010

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Have you noticed it these days? Consumer products are so junky these days! What is going on?

We bought some beds for the kids about 5 years ago. They seemed very nice (and cost nice, too). But now, they are totally junked. I remember in the Good Old Days that beds would last many years before the mattress and box springs gave out. These new things are awful. They are lumpy, bumpy, torn… what gives? This seems to be the plague of modern shopping today– nothing is built to last like it once was.

Anyway, I’m skipping the box spring and mattress stuff from now on. It’s so uncomfortable. The Hubs got me a Tempurpedic mattress from a local retailer a few years ago and I love it. (Although the foundation we got has severe defects and we’ve had 3+ replacements so far). If the memory foam mattress is on a solid, firm foundation, it’s the BEST bed ever. If it’s on a creaky, shifting foundation, it’s horrible. Needless to say, we’re going to get a better foundation box that doesn’t break down every 6 months…. and I’m going to be getting memory foam for the kids as soon as I can. I think it is better for their spines. And they will definitely sleep better.

Memory foam mattresses are not exactly cheap, though. The local store sells them for about $1000! I have four kids, you can see where this would lead me…. but once again, it’s Buy.com to the rescue. They sell mattresses, can you believe it?! There’s a nice 10″ model (twin size) for about $300. And the shipping is free. VERY nice.

The best thing to do with the memory foam mattresses is to place them on a solid base. I have plans to make very simple bed bases, out of lathe stock wood pieces, a wood frame, and a slab of thick plywood. This will provide the foundation as well as the bed frame. And it will be as solid as anything. The kids can even paint them or decorate them in any way they desire. I had a bed like that when I was a teen (we had a regular foam mattress, not “memory foam” back then) and it was solid and comfortable. These kinds of beds are also very durable– no cheapo particle board and Chinese glue!

So that ends one problem. I love Buy.com. I have ordered tons of stuff through them over the years, and I have never been displeased! They ship fast, their service is incredible, and they don’t sell me junk!

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