Mar 282016
 

2 snowy seats and table

Recently I shared 3 projects I would love to make for my garden from wood pallets.  While searching for idea, I came across a few more that would work great for the yard.  These are also projects in which I can involve the kids. 

How about this great porch swing, but turned into a tree swing? I know the perfect limb ….

A shelf to tuck in along a porch corner? Sold. Finding furniture I can leave out rain or shine, or snow, is hard to find. The screened in section of our porch is usually protected, but still is prone to moisture and lots of wind.  There is a section of wall perfect for a shelving unit. It would be a great place to store outside toys, games, and items for entertaining. A much better idea than the low table we currently have which has become a dumping ground.  This is also a project that could be worked on at any point in the year.

I am really liking the idea of this Ottoman for the porch. It would fulfil various needs as time arose – storage for toys or cushions, an extra seat, IR an ottoman. There is the slight detail that this is made from a crate instead if a pallet, but it is a great idea to go from.

Apr 232015
 

DIY project collage

It was one of those weeks, when everything seemed to go wrong at the same time.  That seems to happen these past few months.  🙂  This time, it was the toilets.  We have two bathrooms in the house and both toilets were running between flushes.  This meant water was leaking out of the tank due to either a bad stopper or a float that was not set right.

The inner workings of the tank of a toilet are fairly simple.  First, at the bottom of the tank, you have a hole that opens into the bowl (which is where your business takes place).  This hole is covered by a stopper, called a flapper, so the water does not flow out automatically.

Next you have a handle of some sort that is attached to a chain.  The chain opens the flapper when the handle on the outside of the tank is pushed.  This is what lets the water out of the tank and causes the contents of the bowl to be flushed.

The last part, that I will point out, is the float.  The float looks different in various toilets, so for the purpose of this post I am going to use the ‘balloon like float on the end of a rod’ example.  The float follows the level of water in the tank.  When the water leaves the tank it lowers to its lowest setting, waiting to be raised by the returning water.  Think of this as turning on the faucet.  When the water raises enough, the float turns “off” the faucet and the water stops running.

Simple enough, right?  You push down the handle,ha bar is raised, the chain is pulled, the flapper opens letting water out and the float is lowered,   Somewhere along this route things were not working right and water was leaking slowly, but enough to make the toilet refill with water a little bit over time.

Why is that a bad thing?  It wasn’t hurting anyone.  It was not running across the floor.  Why is it a bad thing to have a running toilet?  The water bill.  Yup, it costs more money every time you have to refill the tank of your toilet.  You would be amazed at how much water is wasted by a running toilet.  Now imagine 2 of them.

With my massive knowledge of the inner workings of this wonderful contraption, I set out to fix the problem.  Beginning with our upstairs bathroom, I took off the tank lid and looked.  And looked.  I may have mumbled a few not nice words to this Porcelain Throne, as I had recently replaced the flapper valves on both.  {sigh}

toilet tank collage

First step was to check the chain.  Had it come unhooked from the float?  No.  Had it come unhooked from the flapper valve?  No.  Was it too loose and need tightening?  No.

Second step was float.  Was it set low/high enough?  These can be adjusted, though the method varies depending on the style you have.  It all looked okay, though I sat and watched it a bit to see what  was happening.  Sure enough, the float eventually got lower and the water switched on.

I fiddled, a very technical term by the way … I fiddled with the float but that did not seem to help.  So I called in reserves, my Dad.  “HELP! What do I do?”  He suggested I try, carefully, to bend the rod going to the float.  Maybe it just needed to be down a bit.  If that did not work, I may need a new part.

To save you all the edge-of-the-seat action, I’ll just tell you that this did not work, but it did show me what needed done.  While moving the rod that held this particular float, I noticed a screw sticking out further than I thought looked normal.  I had no reason to think this, it just came to mind that it looked odd.  Being a rubber ‘screw’ I knew a screw driver wouldn’t work, so I used my hands.  Turns out all it took was a simple push, while holding up the rod to the float, to get it back in place.  And THAT Ladies and Gentlemen, is what was wrong with my toilet.  The ‘screw’ that held the rod to the float up high enough to shut off had worked it way almost completely out and was not doing its job. (In the photo above, the ‘screw’ is on top of the round piece and under the rectangle piece.  It is black.)

Sometimes the fix really is as simple as that.  And, yes, I am very glad I did not call a plumber out to push a ‘screw’ back into place.

Now, for the other toilet … let’s not mention that one yet.  🙂

If you ware wanting a bit more information, here is an infographic by Benjamin Franklin Pluming out of the Twin Cities:

How Flushing Works – An Infographic by the team at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Twin Cities Ben Franklin Minneapolis

 

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Mar 272015
 

DIY project collage

 

In case you missed it, here is Part 1 of this adventure.

Around the New Year I switched from doing laundry at home to going to the local laundry mat.  It meant taking the clothes there and paying for it, but there was the benefit of having all the laundry done for the week in about a 2 hour time span.  However, this was getting old really fast.  I was looking forward to warmer weather and getting back to doing my laundry at home.

A few weeks ago, when the weather warmed back up above freezing for a few days, I went to do a load of laundry. What I found puzzled me – there was water inside the drum.  I drained the water and completed that first load.

It was nice to get clothes cleaned without having to load everything up in the car along with the kids.  What was not nice, but answered the question of water inside the drum, was the flow of water streaming down the back of the washer cabinet.  I finished that load of laundry, then went to do a bit of searching for the water leak.

I tightened the water hoses on the inlet valve.  No luck.

I looked closer as the water was slowly turned on.  That is when I saw the crack in the inlet valve, past where the water hose was connected.  {sigh}

water inlet valve washer

 

I did not want to have to pay $70 plus parts for a service call.  What to do?  The same thing I did when looking to fix the broken door handles on my car – look online for a parts manual to figure out the part and order it.  There were several screws around the back.  I assumed I would be able to remove the back panel and install the parts.

I was having trouble finding what I was looking for, resulting in frustration.  That is exactly what I was not looking to find.

Okay, Plan B – online customer service from the manufacturer.  The cause for the leak was likely not covered by the warranty, but maybe they could help.  Live Chat online customer service works a lot better for me than calling on the phone.  Usually the kids do not know when I am ‘talking’ with someone, so they tend to not interrupt.  Even if they do, the person on the other end does not know it.  It also seems to progress faster than if I were to call by phone.

While talking to CS, I inquired as about if the work was covered under the warranty.  To find out, I would have had to call a technician to come do the work.  I chose not to take the $70 gamble and proceeded on to fix it myself.  Not only did customer service give me a link for the manual, but also a source for parts.

After looking up the part number that was to be replaced, I came across several different videos showing how to actually replace the part.  It was much simpler than I thought, requiring only a screw driver and a wrench or pliers.

Jack came over to watch the video with me, pausing his playing with George because, “When Mom repairs the washer you will be at school and I will be here, so I will need to know how to help her.”  🙂

In the end I opted to order the part from a 3rd part source, thereby saving me $20.  Shipping was to take several days, but actually ended up being overnight.

True to his word, when it came time to work on the washer, Jack stopped his playing and came out to the garage to help.  Not only did he help, but he recited step by step what I needed to do to replace the part.

working on washer inlet valve collage

Once we got the part out, I let Jack play with the old part while I installed the new one.  And, yes, the washer was unplugged from the electrical outlet.  Before I gave him the old part, though, I took a closer look at the crack.  It was much more extensive than I thought AND it had cracked through the connection for the inlet hose.  I think the part ended up braking off during removal, but it must have been cracked enough beforehand to actually fall off without too much effort.

washer inlet valve crack collage

With the part replaced, I grabbed the laundry basket most needing to be washed and, with glee, set about doing my first load of laundry at home in a long time.  I had forgotten how much this little act really is a luxury and not a right.

While doing my second load I saw water running across the garage floor.  Really?! What now?  I went inside and had chocolate.  🙂

That night I thought about the water and what could be the source.  Once I realized there were soap suds in the water stream, I knew exactly where it came from – the drain hose.  Seems it was leaking on both ends.  🙂  After running a few quick Spin & Drain cycles, I realized it was leaking from the point where the hose attached to the washer.  Then I realized the problem was the lack of a clamp to hold the hose in place.  No wonder it was leaking.  I also figured that this was the source of water from before the other leak.  It happened every so often, but I could never find where it was coming from.  $1.50 and a clamp later, problem solved.

In the end, by doing this repair myself I saved:

  • $140 on a service call and a return visit to install the broken piece
  • $20 by buying the part from a 3rd party, rather than the manufacturer
  • $70 by avoiding a service call for the extra leak

I went into this knowing that I knew nothing about washing machine repair, nor exactly where to look to find the information. After asking a few questions and looking up information online, I was able to learn from other people’s knowledge.  Not only did I learn, but Jack now has a beginning understanding of how to fix something or find the information on how to fix it.  I count that as a win on several fronts.

 

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Mar 252015
 

DIY project collage

(This post contains affiliate links.)

The Dangerous Book for Boys

Last week, I added “repair washing machine” to the list of things I wanted to work on in Jack’s schooling.  Why?  I was encouraged by reading this thread at Simply Charlotte Mason and The Dangerous Book for Boys.  This is not an appliance that I would let Jack take apart “just because”, but it was a perfect setting to look inside of it, talk about what things do, how they come apart AND go back together, and more.

Our clothes washer and dryer are located in the garage.  Normally this is a situation that I like – lots of room when my husband’s car is gone, room for the kids to play inside or outside (within sight) while I do laundry, right off the kitchen, only a handful of steps down from the house rather than a lot of steps to the basement.  One of the downfalls to having the laundry located here, is that the door to our garage stopped shutting years ago.  It was an old door and the opening was an odd size; no modern doors could be found to fit it.  We talked and talked about different options or routes we could go, but nothing ever felt right.  Instead of doing something we would not be happy with, we just learned to deal with the cold weather and door that did not close all the way.  While it was a bit annoying, at least this less than ideal situation did not cost us money.

heat lamp on washer

  • I learned that if the weather fell below a certain temperature for more than a few days, the water in the drain pipe would freeze.  This was solved by pouring boiling water from the tea kettle into the pipe a few minutes before starting the laundry.
  • If the temperature stayed cold longer, I would add boiling water to the inside of the washer and place a space heater near the front of the washer.  Blankets were placed on top an the washer was left for about 20 minutes.

Yup, I had completed many trials and had this down almost to a science.  Almost.

Then we bought a front loading machine this past year when our clothes washer went kaput.  The washer, and accompanying dryer, were not only on sale but also floor models which meant an even bigger deal.  Being a nicer set than what we had previously, I did worry about them being in the garage during the winter but figured by that point we would have a new garage door.  🙂

So, winter came and not only did we not have a new garage door, but we also basically had no garage.  As time went on, and temperatures began dropping, the frame of the new garage was put up, plywood was placed along the studs in an effort to slow down the wind and maybe, perhaps, hopefully keep the house a bit warmer.  As the new garage went up, the walls and roof of the old garage came down.  The back wall, behind the washer and dryer was staying in place, though everything else was removed.  In essence, not only was our new washer and dryer no longer in an insulated room, it was in a place virtually open to the elements.

to be continued …

 

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Mar 242015
 

We had stayed after church on Sunday for a potluck/pitch-in that I had not known was planned.  That was fine as we had to stay in Big Town anyway till that evening for another event at church.  As my husband was out of town, and the wind had turned cool, I decided to take George and Jack to the library for a few hours afterwards.

We were almost at the library when I saw some bookcases sitting along the curb.  Where we live that means they are free.  I like free, it is my favorite price. 🙂

With the remodel going on at our house, I am not exactly in the market for more bookcases.  The one exception is for a tall narrow one to use in our closet to hold shoes.  I had done some shopping online and found a few, but none that really fit what I was looking for and at a reasonable price.  I had resigned myself to the fact that I may have to spend $30 or more on wire shelves in order to find something that could be narrow enough.  I only had just under 12″ free in which to work.

As we got closer to the shelves I did not really slow down, after all, I’m not in the market for more shelves.  More importantly, we were in Big Town and I was in my car with two kids.  There was no way a shelving unit was going to fit into my car.

We were right in front of the shelves when… you know where this is going, don’t you?  We were right in front of them when I realized exactly how narrow these things were.  50 feet later I turned onto a side street and made a U-turn.  I had to move quickly, as the road we went back to had no parking on either side, but did have a bike lane on the side I needed to be on.  There was also a fair amount of traffic.  Stressing to the boys how very important it was to stay seated, I popped our trunk and got out.

curbside rescue bookcase collage

By this point, George and Jack were just excited to actually be stopping to pick up something for free that we could take home.  You could feel the air vibrate with excitement when I made the U-turn.  Yup, I’m training them right, though they still have a way to go.  I try to stress that we only take things we actually have a use for, not just because it is free and you want “some thing” more.  If we do not need it, we leave it for someone else who might.

As I got out I was pretty sure the unit would not fit into my trunk.  All I had to do was get it so it would stay, then fix it once I got to the library parking lot.  Now, let me say that if my husband was with me, he would have been driving and would never have turned around.  Maybe it was a good thing he was not there.  He will enjoy the end result  much more not knowing what it looked like to begin with or exactly how I obtained it.  🙂  In these cases he tells me that ignorance is bliss.

We made it to the parking lot only to find that it would not fit through the opening from the trunk into the main part of the car when my back seats were laid down.  It did not matter how I changed around booster seats, it just was not going to go all the way into the car.  The boys were a bit sad, thinking we would have to leave it behind.  Jack was coming up with all sorts of elaborate plans.  One may have even invovled a helicopter.  So proud of my kid who only a few years ago had NO imagination.  I told them the solution was much simpler – we would take it back to church, leave it there till we went back this evening (we do not want to be sitting around Big Town with our trunk open for a few hours), then drive home with it hanging partially out of the trunk.  The boys agreed, at which time Jack switched and began to come up with elaborately written notes to put on the unit so no one would take it and they would know it was ours.  All 10 other people who were going to be at church.  🙂

The plan worked and we made it home, everything in one  piece.  The unit fits within a few 8th’s of an inch.  I was able to get a better look at it while wiping it down.  A coat of Kilz and paint and it will look better than new.  There is some water damage to the bottom, but it is on a side facing a wall so not a bit issue.

I do not have before and after pictures right now, as we picked it up just yesterday and I have been working on the closet, it is going to be put into soon. (That post to follow very soon, once it gets finished.) For now, try to imagine …

… new white-ish coat of paint on the inside and maybe the outside. I have some leftover paint in the basement from a few years ago.  It is going to be mixed together to paint this bookcase turned shoe rack, as well as the trim in the closet.

… a light blue background to match the wall behind it.  The wall in the closet is going to be a light blue thanks to some “Oops” paint I got at a large home improvement store.

I was thinking of looking for pieces of trim in my stash in the basement, then realized I was getting sidetracked on a detail I can add later.  My hope is to have this unit and the closet finished by Friday.  By Sunday, when my husband returns, I hope to have everything put back into place and a new, more spacious and orderly closet waiting for him.

bookcase location in closet remodel

Apr 112013
 

I know these are a bit over do, but I wanted to go ahead and post them anyway.  A picture is always worth a thousand words.  Besides, I like pictures.  I especially like showing you pictures that don’t involve a mess I made or am trying to clean up.

Cleaning the bathroom grout:

Before – notice the dark gray lines?  They are supposed to be a light beige or cream color.

bathroom tile floor before cleaning

Bathroom tile before cleaning 5

 

After – now that is much better.  Not the exact shade as what is under the tub (and hence never walked on), but it is much closer.

Bathroom tile after cleaning 2

 

The hardest part of cleaning the grout was the toilet.  Bar Keepers Friend ended up doing giving me the best results.  Of course that was after trying 3 other things first.  =)  I promise I will never let it get like that again.  Especially now that I realize just how easy it is.  The handheld steamer and a scrub brush really do wonders and no chemical is needed.

Vent Covers:

Next came repainting a few of the vent covers in our house.  Being that our home is over 90 years old, there are at least three different styles of covers found through our home.  These are my favorite as they are decorative, not just utilitarian like modern day covers (which we also have some of), and are sturdy.  Due to time costraints I was only able to do three of these, though I have plans to do the rest at some point in the near future.

To the left of the covers, in the top photo, you can see the bottom portion belonging to two of the covers.  These attach to the tops by screws and the whole thing sits down into the duct opening.  This means you can see these very well.  After pulling them out I realized they needed a cleaning.  After trying a few things to wipe them out with while dry I found a S.O.S. pad to be the best.  I easily and quickly picked up dust and knocked off any trash or loose debris that had fallen through.  When it came time to paint I decided to paint these also.  Over time rust has started to appear on these.  Not only did a new coat of paint make them look really good, it also added a layer of protection.  The bathroom one really needed this extra layer as the added moisture in there had pretty much rusted the whole thing.  Due to these being made of more sturdy metal than just regular aluminum  like the ones you find today, the whole structure was solid.  I oiled it and added two coats of paint to all sides.  The rest of the vent cover bottoms got a coat of paint on the centers but not on the bottom sides.

Vent covers ready to be stripped 2

 

As the stripping chemical starts to work, the paint begins to bubble up and pull away from the metal.

Vent covers with paint stripping on them 2

 

I’m not sure why, but apparently at some point in the past someone had painted this one a particular shade of green.  It reminds me of Kelly Green.  Really …. why …. oh well.  Someone after that apparently thought the same thing I did which would explain why it was brown when I started (see the photo above).  I also found a spot of pink on one but that was all, a spot.  It seems that the layers, oldest to newest, went this way: black, green, brown.

Vent covers after first coast of paint stripping 2

 

It took two coast of the paint stripping medium and steel wool to get most of the paint off.  The first two covers were taken to the car wash to use a power sprayer on.  This was the get the smaller pieces out from among the detail.  Need an exercise to practice your patience?  Try removing paint from items with detail.  Small detail that is hard to get even a tooth brush into.  After that I stopped by the hardware store and picked up some steel wire brushes.  That is what I used on the third, and final, cover and it worked so much better.

And in case you weren’t sure, make sure to wear gloves, not let this stuff get on you, and be aware that it will eat away at plastic if you should happen to spray it on something by accident.  (I learned that the first time I was stripping something when we first moved into the house.  The CD player still works, but it has some scars from the experience.)  Keep kids and pets away.  Also, eye protection is probably a good thing if you tend to splatter stuff.  I think it would be a good idea when using this stuff even if you don’t tend to splatter things.

Below you see the covers devoid of paint and drying off in the sun after a good hosing down.

Stripped vent covers 2

 

This happened to be a wind day, but was one of the few nice (sunny and above freezing) days we had in a long time.  It was also going to turn cold in the following few days.  Sometimes you have to make due with what you have.  Besides, I know from previous experience that a light spraying of spray paint of concrete will eventually wear off.  I thought I did pretty well till I noticed earlier this week that we have faint rectangles in our concrete.  This also explains the mysterious black spots on some of the toys (see them in the photo below) I saw the other day.

Vent covers with first coat of new paint

 

I finished these and installed them before my husband could see them.  They look so sharp and neat now, rather than old and messy.  Exactly what I was going for.

Removal of weeping cherry tree:

Somehow I forgot to take a before photo.  The dirt you see in the bottom of the picture below is actually the part of the yard where grass was shaded out by the limbs of the tree.  No grass would grow there, but weeds did just fine.

It took about 4 days of cutting on this tree before we finally got it removed.  The first day I cut off all the limbs and piled them up.  (I have since moved them next to the compost pile and am slowly chopping up the limbs and adding them to the pile.  Larger pieces are being piled behind the structure to dry out for use as future fire wood.)  The next three days saw me working on the trunk with a hand saw.  I cut a bit each day.  The angle was hard and I would start to get frustrated.  It as at that point I would stop.

The stump is hard to see in the picture below.  It is the light spot in the upper middle of the photo.  The tree had a diameter of 5 – 6 inches.  Not large, but it sure was solid.

 

Weeping cherry tree removed

 

The kids had fun kicking the tree trunk to watch it move back and forth.  I let them do this at first to see that it wouldn’t move.  I told them to push as hard as they could and of course there was no movement.  The second day it moved a little.  The third day, of cutting on the trunk, the whole thing would vibrate quite nicely.

I ended up making a  hinge as there is a root on the left side of the picture below.  Cutting downward actually saved me time.  As I got closer to that point, coming from the right, I knew I was really close.  The tree was moving more and starting to shake.  For the final strokes I had the kids push and pull the tree.  They thought it was so need to “knock a tree over”.  The trunk was quickly confiscated and has a new life as a ‘couch’ in their ‘house’ under the limbs knocked down by the major snow storm.  I told them they could do with it whatever they wanted, as long as it stayed out of the road.  Since it is so heavy, I honestly don’t think they could do much moving with it.

 

Weeping cherry tree stump

 

With the tree gone I was able to plant two blackberry bare root plants.  Here is one of them.  It isn’t much to look at but I have high hopes for them.  Besides, it would be nice to have some landscaping do something besides just look pretty.

Blackberry bush bare root transplant

 

I don’t have a picture of the final soup I made, but we had it last week and it was so good.  The search for a trashcan is still on going.

  1. Spackle stairway walls
  2. Prime spots to be painted (from previous replacement of door and window frames)
  3. Paint spots around door and window frames
  4. Repaint Horse post by street
  5. Strip vent covers in bathroom and kitchen
  6. Repaint bathroom and kitchen vent covers
  7. Seal pots and paint with chalkboard paint (to be used with herb plants on the deck)
  8. Add outlet cover for washer/dryer
  9. Add outlet cover for outlet on front porch
  10. Check credit report
  11. Replace light fixture in stairway
  12. Remove weeping cherry (to create a place for blackberry bushes)
  13. Put out a bird bath
  14. Buy new kitchen trash can – work in progress
  15. Organize and label kitchen pantry
  16. Move clothing totes to back of crawl space (instead of right in front), add shoe rack and rod to hang winter coats
  17. Divide out future clothing sized into clear totes, label
  18. Put camping stuff in tote(s), label
  19. Clean bathroom grout
  20. Seal bathroom grout
  21. Make and freeze 4 different soups, 3 months worth each
Apr 022013
 

30 days 21 projects photo

Math is one topic I loved in school.  Numbers still have an appeal for me.  Apparently, though, my math was a bit off this time.  I had it in my head that the 30 Days was going to end on Thursday.  Then I sat down to post today’s progress, did the math and realized my mistake. Today is the end of the 30 days.  Did it creep up on anyone else?

This time perfectionism is not going to get in the way.  The day is not done yet and I am actually on my way outside to finish #5 and #6 on the list.  I started yesterday, realized a part I thought I had was used previously.  After trying a few things as substitutes, and finding them not the right tool, I spent the $3.50 at the hardware store and got what I really needed – wire brushes.

#12 is almost done.  I have cut through half of the tree with my hand saw.  Once I have finished it (this afternoon?) I will plant the blackberry plants that came in the mail over the weekend.

#21 is also on the “to-do” list this week.  I decided that the last soup was going to be beef stew, of which I have all the ingredients.  I may end up on the stove tonight just to get it completed, though may not.  Either way, it is going to be done by the end of the week.

I am actually battling a cold right now that is zapping me of energy, giving me a headache and making is almost impossible to talk.   (I lost my voice due to coughing.)  Yet, I am not sitting around.  I am doing what I can. This means that whatever gets done today, gets done.  What doesn’t get done today will happen tomorrow.  And I am okay with that.  (However, it has to get done tomorrow as I am right against the self imposed deadline to redo my raised beds.  The weather is turning warmer and I want to take advantage of it.  Onions sets are waiting to go in the ground and strawberry plants are expected in this week.  In order to get both of those planted I need soil and beds in which to plant them.  This will be a post later in the week, but may explain some quietness on the blog in the next few days.)

No time is ever THE perfect time.  I am feeling under the weather, the kids are be home for spring break and asking a zillion questions, the laundry needs done, there is dust in more places than I want to admit, and the front porch needs cleared off (weekly goal).  However, I can find things about each day that are not perfect.  Life isn’t perfect.  So NOW is the time to just do those things that need to be done.

4 out of 21 projects are not completed.  Not perfect but I am very happy with the results of the past 30 days.  Another way to look at this is – I have completed 17 projects in the past month!  That is 17 projects done that were still hanging around unfinished as of last month.  I am glad to have not saved the largest projects for the end.  Of the 4 projects left, a few are a bit more complicated, but none are huge.

Lists of my 21 Projects:

  1. Spackle stairway walls
  2. Prime spots to be painted (from previous replacement of door and window frames)
  3. Paint spots around door and window frames
  4. Repaint Horse post by street
  5. Strip vent covers in bathroom and kitchen
  6. Repaint bathroom and kitchen vent covers
  7. Seal pots and paint with chalkboard paint (to be used with herb plants on the deck)
  8. Add outlet cover for washer/dryer
  9. Add outlet cover for outlet on front porch
  10. Check credit report
  11. Replace light fixture in stairway
  12. Remove weeping cherry (to create a place for blackberry bushes) – work in progress
  13. Put out a bird bath
  14. Buy new kitchen trash can – work in progress
  15. Organize and label kitchen pantry
  16. Move clothing totes to back of crawl space (instead of right in front), add shoe rack and rod to hang winter coats
  17. Divide out future clothing sized into clear totes, label
  18. Put camping stuff in tote(s), label
  19. Clean bathroom grout
  20. Seal bathroom grout
  21. Make and freeze 4 different soups, 3 months worth each – work in progress.  3 soups made.

The projects in bold above are ones that I either and working on today, or plan to begin tonight.  I actually finished one project this morning and another one was put on hold at lunch time.

The cherry tree has been worked on a bit at a time and is almost done.  There was a small debate in my head yesterday concerning this project – break down the limbs to compost in my pile, but add time to the projects OR take them to the town’s disposal sight and get done sooner.  I decided to add the limbs to the compost pile rather than taking them to the town’s yard waste disposal site.

How have you done completing projects this past month?  Just by thinking about what needs to be done have you found yourself doing some of them?

 

Mar 302013
 

30 days 21 projects photo

Two more projects were crossed off the list Thursday.  Yes, that means this post is a few days late.  It is also photo free since the pictures are on the camera at home, but I’m not at home.  We are visiting family for the Easter weekend.  When I get back I’ll add them to the next post.

The two projects I recently worked on, and finished, involved cleaning the grout in the bathroom and sealing it.  For something that is supposed to be done every year, it has been 4 years since I did it.  What kept me from doing it earlier?  Perfectionism.  I really thought I wasn’t a perfectionist.  However it seems that for every project on this list I am finding that the main reason I haven’t gotten to them was due to perfectionism, not lack of time.  I wasn’t sure of the RIGHT way to clean the grout, the RIGHT cleaner to use, the RIGHT sealant to use, the RIGHT brush … in the end I used the cleaner and sealant our local hardware store had.  I used a brush I had in the basement from a previous cleaning job I did.  Also, I found that my steamer worked much better than the cleaner and it smelled better too.

The biggest thing that was keeping me from this job were the stains around the edge of the toilet.  Over time a little miss here and a little miss there had created stains in the grout right at the edge where it meets the toilet.  After trying what I thought would work I gave in a searched the Internet for an answer.  What seemed to be the most recommended, a special cleaner, would have required an extra trip to the store on a night where I didn’t really have time.  I decided to try the “home remedies” first.  The first two didn’t have any impact.  The third one did, though I didn’t know it till the morning when the grout was completely dry.  I was so mad at it the night before I had given up and put everything away in a huff.  In the morning when I saw the stains were completely gone I felt bad about my unjustified anger (really, I was just overly annoyed) at the grout.  =)  I finished cleaning the other parts of grout around the toilet, as I had tried all the different ways to clean in one spot rather than having to do six different places each time.

Next came two applications of grout sealer and the job was done.  4 years of perfectionism done away with in about a day and half of work (with lots of down time in there).

We will be visiting family through Sunday.  Monday I am hoping to tackle the next big project left on my list, which I actually broke down into two parts – stripping and repainting vent covers in several rooms of my house.  Once those are done the remaining projects are pretty small and should go quickly.

While I can’t actually do any of the projects while I am away this weekend, I can think about them.  I really need to figure out a 4th soup recipe to make and freeze.  By the time I go home tomorrow I hope to have one in mind.  3 more days till Day 30 comes.  I’m hoping to make it as close as I can, but foresee two of the projects remaining unaccomplished by that time.  We’ll see if that thought comes true or it these will all be accomplished.

Lists of my 21 Projects:

  1. Spackle stairway walls
  2. Prime spots to be painted (from previous replacement of door and window frames)
  3. Paint spots around door and window frames
  4. Repaint Horse post by street
  5. Strip vent covers in bathroom and kitchen
  6. Repaint bathroom and kitchen vent covers
  7. Seal pots and paint with chalkboard paint (to be used with herb plants on the deck)
  8. Add outlet cover for washer/dryer
  9. Add outlet cover for outlet on front porch
  10. Check credit report
  11. Replace light fixture in stairway
  12. Remove weeping cherry (to create a place for blackberry bushes) – work in progress
  13. Put out a bird bath
  14. Buy new kitchen trash can – work in progress
  15. Organize and label kitchen pantry
  16. Move clothing totes to back of crawl space (instead of right in front), add shoe rack and rod to hang winter coats
  17. Divide out future clothing sized into clear totes, label
  18. Put camping stuff in tote(s), label
  19. Clean bathroom grout
  20. Seal bathroom grout
  21. Make and freeze 4 different soups, 3 months worth each – work in progress.  3 soups made.

How is your list coming?  Have you challenged yourself on anything lately?  What was the result?  Did you find it more difficult than you anticipated or did things get easier as you went along?

Mar 282013
 

21 Days To A More Disciplined Life

21 Days To A More Disciplined Life

The long awaited final post to the Mega Project for February’s 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life is here.  Okay, I’m not sure if you have be awaiting it, but I sure have been awaiting getting around to being able to write and post this final post.  Did you follow that?  It honestly hadn’t taken me all that long to finish this project as it may seem, due to the lateness of this post.  The biggest delay was the wiring …

GFCI outlet in bathroom remodel being installed

light switch in bathroom remodel being installed… it still looks like this.  The light switch has a broken wire inside the box and the GFCI outlet won’t reset for some reason.  We have had this particular breaker off for sometime.  It was only after shutting it off that I realized how many random things in the house are on this circuit.  Outlets in our basement, main floor and the upstairs as well as the lights in this bathroom and some (but not all) in the bedroom beside this bathroom.

I initially told myself that I would post this final post after I did this final step.  Now the step involves and electrician whom we have not chosen yet (still awaiting a second quote).  Said person will also be installing the vent, replacing a vent in our other bathroom, installing a light switch for a light that is always on, and fixing the two issues above.  Sometimes, you just need to know when to call for help.

Okay, so what does the rest of the bathroom look like?  Take a look.

finished bathroom remodel decorated

The odd light is a reflection off the mirror.  I tried from several different angles but kept getting the same result.  As that is what a mirror does, reflect, I gave up and moved on.

bird clock in finished bathroom remodel decorated

I intend to add items around the clock, small pictures, as I come across them.  This is behind where the main door opens and is above the closet door you see.  I wasn’t standing on a chair to take the photo.  It is a short closet tucked into the attic space.  It hurts like the dickens to hit your head on the frame, which is something I never thought I would have to say.

finished bathroom remodel decorated 2

This is the view from the door way.  Again a mirror is reflecting on the right side.  This particular mirror was in the bathroom when we moved in.  It is kind of neat in that it extends and swivels.  You can also flip it to have a mirror that magnifies.  I have found it useful to see the back of my head or as a second mirror if the larger mirror is taken up.  The hand towel and bathmat are new.  The picture was picked up from a garage sale last summer with no really home.  Once I decided on the color I wanted this bathroom (tan and red) I realized it fit perfectly.

I didn’t tell my husband when I finished the bathroom.  Instead I let him find out for himself.  He came back downstairs commenting on how much he liked it and that it turned out better than he thought it would.  He also wants me to do the same for other rooms in the house.  The biggest difference?  Art work on the walls.  Specifically, art work (or pictures) that are sized to fit the space.

This project seemed so big at the beginning and never ending while doing it.  However, now that it is done I am so much happier with this room.  I also won’t feel embarrassed to let visitors use it.

Mar 262013
 

30 days 21 projects photo

Lists of my 21 Projects:

  1. Spackle stairway walls
  2. Prime spots to be painted (from previous replacement of door and window frames)
  3. Paint spots around door and window frames
  4. Repaint Horse post by street
  5. Strip vent covers in bathroom and kitchen
  6. Repaint bathroom and kitchen vent covers
  7. Seal pots and paint with chalkboard paint (to be used with herb plants on the deck)
  8. Add outlet cover for washer/dryer
  9. Add outlet cover for outlet on front porch
  10. Check credit report
  11. Replace light fixture in stairway
  12. Remove weeping cherry (to create a place for blackberry bushes) – work in progress
  13. Put out a bird bath
  14. Buy new kitchen trash can – work in progress
  15. Organize and label kitchen pantry
  16. Move clothing totes to back of crawl space (instead of right in front), add shoe rack and rod to hang winter coats
  17. Divide out future clothing sized into clear totes, label
  18. Put camping stuff in tote(s), label
  19. Clean bathroom grout
  20. Seal bathroom grout
  21. Make and freeze 4 different soups, 3 months worth each – work in progress.  3 soups made.

Above I have put in bold, red letters the project I am hoping to work on today.  I may get that one done or another one.  I may get more than one done.  Laying in bed this morning I had grand plans, but then realized that it was still dark outside and all things seem much easier while laying in bed thinking about doing them.  They also don’t seem to take near as long at that time of morning in that particular position.  Add to that some other things that need to get taken care of today I need to not forget that there are people who are counting on me for food and attention.  We’ll see what the day brings.

I am really starting to feel the crunch time on this.  7 more days to go.  This involved being gone from home for 3.5 of those days.  It also involved a snow storm which kept kids home from school on Monday and us inside Sunday night.  One thing I was able to do was to upload pictures that were on my camera and had not made it to the blog yet.  Here are some of the photos I have taken, both of the snow and of projects from the list.

The first two are of the new bird bath placed in the yard.  I decided to put it among the rose bushes for a few reasons.  One being that the previous owners had a statue or such here and left the concrete blocks.  Also, I thought it would look really nice during the summer when the bushes are all green and full of blooms.

Bird bath among rose bushes

bird bath reflecting cloudy sky

Here is how it looked Monday morning with 10 inches of snow on it (we had an inch more, but some was blown off of here I believe.

snow on rose bushes and bird bath

Yes, there is a bird bath under there.  By lunch time Monday all the snow was melted off.  The temperatures just weren’t right to have the snow hang around any longer.

depth of snow on bird bath in inches

10 inches on the bird bath

snow depth on birdbath in centimeters

This meant about 24 or 25 cm.

snow filled basketball hoop

I would have never thought that a basket ball net would actually catch and hold snow.  The wind was blowing very had, though, and it was wet enough to stick.

snow on trees and back deck

snow on trees and deck

snow on trees

If you look close enough you can tell that the branches are bending.  Not only is this due to the weight of the wet snow, but also because these are soft wood trees.  They were created to bend easily under weight.  For the most part they will come back to their normal stance without incident.  Now hickory trees are the exact opposite.  They are hard woods and don’t bend easily.  They will hold up under weight but are more likely to break.  This is also why you don’t see baseball bats made out of pine wood.  The ball just wouldn’t be hit as far.