Category Archives: home improvements

The Ideal

Years ago it must have been, one of my parents or someone got a brochure for a housing development in SoCal. For some reason, this has always been my image of an ideal home. I guess the marketing people got me right!

It shows a 108′ x 300′ lot. the lot is divided into 5 (from the street):

  1. House, driveway, drying yard, etc.
  2. Pond, grass
  3. Swing set/play area, tennis or badmidton court, veggie garden,
  4. four rows of fruit trees, 4 per row, (40)
  5. chicken house/goat pen.

Tennis courts take 42′ in length. Dwarf apple trees take 10′ each, an orchard of 4 x 4 trees would take up 40 linear feet

Those items take up 82 of 300 feet, leaving 212′ in length for the animal pen area (chickens/goats), the grass/pond, and oh yes, the house and front lawn.


The lot as shown is 3/4 of an acre. We have more than that, although not a lot! I wouldn’t have thought we had room for 16 fruit trees, a chicken coop,a tennis court, a pond AND the house? I’m not interested in the tennis court, swing set, etc., but the  pond, fruit trees and chicken coop are interesting. Hmm!

 

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Sunshine!

One, I finally feel NOT sick, which is a real blessing after 2 months of being sick!

Two, it’s a not too hot, not too cold day out there. The bean trellis got planted yesterday, it rained so I didn’t have to water the seeds in. The greens I’d planted last week are starting to sprout. Although I won’t get any where near as many plants as I’d hoped, all my seed is at least 3 years old.

The plan this year is to use it ALL up, and start fresh next year. This is what happens when you don’t do a garden for 2 years….

The car is loaded with flea market items going to the storage. At the moment, I’m waiting on the chimney sweep guy, who’s supposed to be here in the next 1/2 hour. After he leaves, I’ll haul a load to the storage and a load back (there’s no room in the storage for a car full, so something has to come back too.)

But, it’s also DUMP DAY, so a load or three of leaves and books and asst. stuff will go to the dump today. And that, if nothing else, will create a small hole in the pending stuff waiting to be dealt with. Hurrah!

There are 3 rugs on the lawn waiting for DH’s help to shake them. The 2 smaller ones will come back in the house, the bigger one is slated for the flea market, and will go into the car.

It’s spring, I don’t feel wretched, and I’m finally getting things done I’d planned to do two months ago. Hurrah!

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Photo by Linda Xu on Unsplash

This Week & the Neat Muscle

This week is going to be centered around the upcoming flea market. (If you’re local and want info, let me know!)

Afterwards, I hope to have a hole here AND a hole in the storage. As with April’s flea market, I’ll set aside a wadge of the unsold items to donate, hopefully to the thrift shop down the street. If we can’t donate it there, I’ll put it in storage to donate it elsewhere or take it to the dump’s swap shop.

A major purge: a box of books and 10 bins worth of leaves, that’s 260 gallons were taken to the dump! There remains 2 small leaf piles I missed on the lawn and a larger pile next to the compost heap, I just had to get them off the grass!

Today’s work:

  • The bean trellis needs to be anchored further and the beans planted. That’s the next step in the veggie garden. Of course, more leaf raking.
  • The dryer is acting up, so clearing the porch under where the clothes line is getting put up for the summer is another. Moving the dryer away from the wall and see if the drain is plugged? DH did this. The dryer is back in place, hopefully usuable — I had a large load of rags, kitchen towels, etc. to wash and did so!
  • The living room also needs to be cleaned, amongst other things, our chimney will be swept Weds.

Other projects:

Dining Room & Rug:  The rug effort made great progress yesterday. I got the 3 rugs stitched together and started on the first border. I need to do 2 sets of border stitches. Then I need to clean up the stitching, knot and tie off the ends. THEN I’m done! Still several hours away, but definite progress!

The rug effort required the dining area be cleared out a bit, which it was. Still more to do there as well, quite a bit, with the furniture move I have in mind, but it will happen, eventually! We are loaning our old table to a gallery, that will help, but the table top detaches from the legs, so that’s only 2 pieces in what is an overcrowded room. Still, every bit helps!

Electronic Purge: Re the electronic purge? I have about 2800 emails in my email’s trash folder. They are purged automagically when they’re there for 30 days. That leaves approx. 25,300 in my in box.

We went to the dump THREE times yesterday, so aside from the 10 bins of leaves, there are definitely fewer items here!


Much of this process, which now has gone on for years, has seemed futile. I keep relearning what I’ve happened on every once in a while. That is, that the people with neat houses make it a priority. To them, the mess is simply unacceptable. For me, for years it was inevitable and another sign of how “flawed” I was.

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Photo by Kristian Seedorff on Unsplash

I’m not flawed, I just need to learn to think in new ways. The bins being used in the leaf effort is an example.

The bins were bought to hold twigs and other kindling. Fine. Most of them were empty on the porch this spring, making a bit of a mess, but not much, they stack. However, I’d run out of trashcans, used most of my reusable leaf bags, and still had many piles of leaves in the yard. A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that a summer use for the kindling bins could be holding leaves before hauling them to the dump’s leaf pile! And the yard became instantly more attractive as the full bins were stacked in front of where the cars park and the leaf piles disappeared.

I just don’t have the “neat muscle” yet.  But I’m working on it!

 

 

Other Work

The small wood pile at the bottom of the drive was moved today into the wood shelter. More misc. stuff was removed from the porch and more of its floor has been swept. Some of it was put into the basement, where it will be used.

I placed tongue depressors next to the spent daffs where the plants can stand to be divided. I need my weeding stool before I can do that or the leaning over will kill my back. The weeding stool was stored away, it’s being used as a stand right this minute. When it’s free, then I can divide the daffs, so there will be more flowers next year! First 2 divided, more to come!

I planted an heirloom crabapple. Whether we’ll get a tree or not, who knows?

The wood pile tarps which were scattered around the front yard have all been gathered up. The plywood for the wood pile has been put away,

More Culling, Electronic & Otherwise

Have to declutter. Along this line, I have been looking at my pins on pinterest.

I just looked at one and deleted it. Why? Because the link to the content I wanted got a 404 error on the website where the pin originated! If you’re so lazy that you can’t fix internal references, either on pinterest or on your own website, why would I want to read anything you had to say about organization?

That stuff counts people!

I also deleted a post where in order to read any content you either had to sign up for their emails or pay for it. If it’s not free, say so up front! I wouldn’t have pinned the front page if I’d known that to start with. Don’t waste my time! Also, I do NOT need more email coming into my inbox! If I read your content and it seems worthwhile, then maybe, I might sign up for your emails. Maybe.


What this reminded me was that I need to set goals with the decluttering and cleaning. I’d forgotten about that idea, but it really helps.


I have slowly but surely been doing a little of the seasonal/spring cleaning. I haven’t finished cleaning the doors/walls in the hall, but I have cleaned the bottom shelf and window in the laundry room, the shower curtains have been washed and reversed to their summer positions.

(Yes, there had been a photo here of a closet. But until I had a reason to scroll up from the bottom, I hadn’t noticed the naked female torso,crotch to neck, under the closet!) So much for images from upsplash. You folks will have to make do without images again for a while until I can find another source.

I took the salt and handwarmers out of the entry and discussed with DH how we need a “seasonal” shelf: insect repellant, sunscreen, hand warmers, pathway salt all need to be stored in one place. Whatever you need you grab.

I know where I’d like it to be: the coat closet shelf. Or maybe a decorative, lidded basket near the entry? (The salt container will be the determinate there; it’s the biggest piece.) Maybe under the entry bench?

DH took over the coat closet a few  years back with motorcycle gear. And although I’ve removed about 1/2 of it into 2 other locations, there still isn’t enough room to actually use it for something like this. Not to mention that the closet door frequently gets blocked with items going into/out of my office, sigh.

I suppose if I’m going to start decluttering, now. The first place I should start is that hallway. I will get access to the closet door, the last door I need to spring clean, so that job will be finished. And I can look at the closet for general house use vs. motorcycle stuff, again.


DH’s lunch project is to hang the laundry rack. We bought a few years ago a rack  you can raise and lower from the ceiling to dry clothes. This is another way to save $, make use of what we already have, etc.

We also had a discussion about whether it’s too soon to put away the wood burning materials for the season. DH reminded me we were building fires still in June last year, so nothing got put away.


I worked in my office some this morning. Took out the 3 covered enamel pots I store stacked one atop the other. I’d had yarn, etc. in them. That collection got culled. Some of it went in the trash, some of it is going to the swap shop, some of it is going to the flea market, and some of it is going back into my office!

I also pulled a metal file box out, filled with paperwork. I reused the file box to house the “this needs to go into the filing cabinet” papers and the receipts, etc. which it held are getting put into the new system for that.

Fewer pieces. Less stuff! More organization! Fewer expenses (laundry rack).

All good (except that image; THAT made me MAD)! I’m not against nudes, or even think the image was ugly or in particularly bad taste, but I feel broadsided by the fact that I should have vetted the image more. Even needing a more detailed vetting doesn’t bother me, it was the shock of NEEDING to do that which upset me!

So, I apologize if you got this post with the image and it offends you. It was completely unintentional!

Stair Rails, Minisplits, & Life Work

I told DH yesterday to add to the list I want to replace the stair rail at some point. It’s shiny brass. The house is going towards flat black or brushed zinc hardware. Flat black on incidental stuff and brushed zinc on things like faucets. (Not shiny brass!)

So I did a bit o’ research and so did he, it will cost $100+ these days to replace the railing.  We explored some DIY ideas, and they’d all cost about the same, so why bother?

It’s a detail and not on the urgent list. If we find a  used flat black or brushed chrome set of hardware, we now know where to buy the railing, prefinished or raw lumber. Info. is almost always nice to have.

I had found a fireplace set I didn’t hate for < $100 and sent him a link. He pointed out it has 2 tools more than we actually need and why buy them? The place where I found this I think has some tools a la carte. I’ll have to go look. The tongs from the current set wound up in the flea market pile because of this discussion too.

The minisplits got more discussion, as did the house design ideas we’ve explored. We talked about taking the home plan we now have to a big box store and talking about floor plans, changing the kitchen around, etc. with one of the free kitchen designers. Don’t know if they’ll actually talk to us without a monetary commitment, but you don’t know if you don’t ask.

DH came up with a piece of hobby equipment for the flea market, prompted me to go find 4 bowls and a length of fabric to add to a new flea market box.

I found in the shed a few things I thought were long gone, but no, they were not sold long ago and far away… they’ll either be put in the booth or the new flea market box, after they’re cleaned. I have a silk pantsuit which needs to be ironed before it gets added too. The china and silk will fill up the end of the box — and another cubic foot o’ stuff goes outta here!

That doesn’t seem like much, does it? But we’ve both been sick, for most of 6 weeks with 2 different colds. And the second one is a bitch and a half to kick, let me tell you!

3 rules of work

DH dismantled one of the 2 snowblowers last week. The motor is being kept for a project he has in mind. The rest of the bits and pieces went to the dump. The last of it today. Also, we’ve started hauling the accumulated leaves and bark piles to the dump too.

He resigned from the board he was on and I asked him what we could do to forward his avocation using his now free time? What he did shocked me!

He bought organization materials for the accumulated work, so we can label and catalog it. His heirs will be pleased and I’m relieved. I had this nightmare vision about going through the work and only having my best memory and no knowledge of the technical side of what he did, when and where. Hopefully, at some point, there will be (even self-published) a complete catalog.

We’re adulting here. It’s a slow process, but it’s happening. All I have to do now is find some weird convoluted way to turn it into some $. That’s all?

More Frugality

Because the thing I want to save the $ for is a heating/energy unit, I went looking at our electric company’s website. So they kept referencing apparently an old, Obama-era site, which of course is no longer active, but there’s no other referral.

I am, can you tell, really impressed with our local electric company. Wonder why? See here for more info.

In their defense, I will say that the 3rd time they sent us the “You’re using more energy than your more energy efficient neighbors” letter, they did at least make some reference to what they were comparing us to, a typical home in our zip code. Of course, they never actually said what that was, so it was still meaningless, but less so than previously.

DH is set on getting at least one minisplit  this year and maybe another next year. Okay. The chimney cap we’re replacing this year is the last piece of the chimney/wood stove replacement project. The only piece other than that on the chimney which hasn’t been replaced is the veneer over the pipe, a box around it. I’d love to replace the box, but it’s mostly cosmetic, not structural.

If I win the lottery, we’re going to get the minisplits, solar panels AND a new fake riverrock box around the chimney pipe with a mantel to match. Just sayin’!

Barring that? We’re getting a new chimney cap and at least one minisplit.

My husband said to me, empathically emphatically this morning, that he didn’t want to haul wood or load it into the stove another year.

Okay!

I just have to find a way to make this happen! Squeeze those dollars!


Plant and landscaping frugality: A 1 gallon potted perennial is $35 at Lowes, about $32 with a discount. If you buy them at garden club sales, they’re around $10-$20. Cheaper yet? Layer a 2nd one from one you’ve got, or plant the seeds, or divide it? — Free!

Mulch frugality: Garden centers at big box stores typically sell opened bags of mulch, etc. for 1/2 price. Cheaper yet? Use the pine needles, pine bark, leaves, what have you that you have in your yard already as mulch. Free!

The Celery Thing: I’ve run into this a couple of times, people talking about planting celery plants in their yard. I did this last fall, and the plants are gone this spring, again.

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Photo by Sole D’Alessandro on Unsplash

I went looking for more information. The best I found is a woman who’s been using the same 7 celery plants for years. She lifts them in the fall and makes them houseplants during the winter (and uses them). You can find her write up about this here. (The site is full of interesting ideas too: choosingvoluntarysimplicity.com .)


Gawd I love spring.

And I hate it; I’m always overwhelmed with things to do, ideas to explore, etc. Too much!


Despite still being sick, I managed to spread one of the remaining bags of mulch this morning on the bulb bed. I also transplanted two daffs AND moved some rock, sand, etc. I was wiped out after about an hour, which is typical these days.


On Saturday: the plant sales were a success and not as cheap as I’d hoped. The library/town sale where I’d bought a 1 gallon pot for $10 last year, they were $15. (I got 2.)

The other plant sale where I stopped I got 2 6″ perennials for $5 each.

Sunday? Our next door neighbor took out 90% of a forsythia bush (what the 1 gallon pots held)  and gave me a branch which should get us the last two plants I think I need, for free. I wish I’d known the neighbor was going to whack up his 15 year old plant 1 day earlier, could have saved us $30!