‘Home & Garden’ Posts
After about a year and a half of marriage, my husband and I bought our first house. We were very excited to update the paint, flooring, landscaping, appliances and wall coverings, but we didn’t know where to begin. Our first big project was re-painting our dining room, which turned out pretty well. We stripped the wallpaper off, painted the walls a straw color, then smeared stain around with cloths to give it an old Latin flair. We were so proud of ourselves, we couldn’t wait to start another project. Unfortunately, not all the projects we did went as smoothly, and we soon learned to seek out expert advice to help us avoid pitfalls along the way.
Many of us have been hit by the current recession. Some of us have lost jobs, others have lost homes and most of us have had to downsize our budget in some way. Because of this, a lot of people who would like to sell their homes are unable to, but would still like a change. The only other option is to redecorate the home you already have. Luckily, with all the online stores available now, the choices you have are just about endless.
When my husband and I bought our first house we were so excited to decorate it with our own style and flair. Room by room, we went through and re-did every wall color and changed out all the carpets. It took a while because we didn’t have very much money and did it when we could, for as cheap as we could. However, when it was all done, we loved it! We have since sold that house and are now renting, so we don’t have as much freedom, but I’m still on the look out for new decorating ideas.
Through the long winter months I have been increasingly exasperated with how little light there is in my kitchen! Somehow, regardless of how many high-powered light bulbs I screw into the overhead fixture, the room remains shady and ill-lit, allowing who knows what germ accumulations to lurk undetected. Our home came with some under-cabinet lighting, which, when I remember to switch it on, takes care of lighting the sink and most counter areas. Under-cabinet lighting is usually not that difficult to install, so if you don’t have it already, check out someplace like Lowes or Home Depot. However, there are numerous places where under-cabinet lighting is just not feasible. For example, we have a little dining nook at the end of the kitchen with small leafed table that stubbornly resists all attempts at illumination.
My husband and I just bought a new house last summer. By the time the dust cleared from all the unpacking, the detached oversized garage was a disaster area. Gradually throughout the fall and winter we have been able to sort, organize, line the walls with tubs, and clear a nice open space for him to have a workbench and to accomplish all his mysterious ‘man-projects.’ Unfortunately, we live in the Midwest, and the summer heat and humidity in an enclosed space becomes gosh-awful unbearable. Not to mention the difficulty of lighting. One helpful friend suggested cutting a hole in the back of the garage to install a fan and/or window. Not being to terribly enthusiastic about sawing into the siding, I have been busily searching for other solutions. Leaving the door up was an option for more light and air, but left the problem of flies and bugs and neighborhood cats slipping in. Oh, and squirrels and bunny rabbits too.
Like most people, I don’t like moving. It’s always such a hassle to find moving boxes, pack up all your stuff, find a new place to live, unpack everything and try to get organized again. I am not a total organization freak, but I do like my house to have some order to it. I have a hard time starting my day if the house is messy. I also love to get all my dishes done each night so I can wake up to a clean sink. That’s why moving is hard for me. It drives me nuts not having things in order or not knowing where to find things when I need them. That being said, we decided a few months ago to start looking for a place with a third bedroom. After a bunch of dead ends, we found a place that is just perfect for us. It’s not too far away, has everything we need and doesn’t cost much more than what we’re paying right now. That’s all good and well, but now comes the hard part: the act of moving.
With the summer months fast approaching I’ve started to think about all the things I want to can, dehydrate, freeze and vacuum seal for my family to use all winter long. Yes, I’ve become one of those women I used to make fun of that I thought acted too old fashioned. It’s a funny thing how life changes your perspective on things. I’ve already done one batch of strawberry jam and also dehydrated some strawberries. I figure they might be good in muffins, oatmeal or trail mix. Once berry season hits, I plan to pick as much as possible and make jam, dehydrate some and freeze the rest. We just found a great chest freezer online and I can’t wait to fill it all up with good food. I am new to canning, dehydrating and freezing, but I can see the great potential it has for providing good and natural food for my family throughout the year.
Yesterday was a fairly normal day for me, besides the fact that both my husband and daughter were sick. He took the day off work and planned to try and sleep it off. I got our daughter ready for the day and then worked a little bit. We ran a few errands and then went to the bank to pay a bill. The teller asked me if I had been making any large purchases and when I said no she showed me over $4,000 of purchases made with my husband’s debit card at various stores over the past day. I told her we hadn’t made them and she told me the steps I would need to take to file a dispute with the bank for the fraudulent charges. I came home and thought I should wake up my husband to tell him the news and he was glad I did. We called the stores that were involved and they told us we had to call the police.
I have a very active and stubborn three year old that likes to give me a run for my money. My husband works and goes to school full time so he’s not home very much. That leaves a lot of hours in the day that I have alone with my daughter. Most of the time we fill the days with activities, errands, play dates and other stuff, but some days we don’t have very much to do and I really need a break from her. There is a store nearby that has an on site playland for kids where I can drop her off for up to an hour while I do my shopping. I do a good deal of shopping there for this reason, but some days, I have to admit, I go there just for the free baby sitting. I drop her off, go find a good magazine and sit in the furniture section reading until the hour is up. I know it’s cheating, but I do give that store a lot of business so I figure it’s ok.
After living in our first home for almost 7 years we decided it was time to move. We made a list of the fix-ups we wanted to do before putting our house up for sale and got to work. It came time to work on the kitchen, which needed new cupboards, flooring, paint, appliances and counter tops. We wanted to do as much as we could by ourselves, but decided to hire out the counter tops and tile flooring. We didn’t want to use a home improvement store because we thought we could save more money hiring an individual handy man to do the job. My husband searched Craig’s List and found someone that would do the job. He finished the work and did a decent job with the tile, but ended up charging almost double what he quoted us. When all was said and done, we paid more than we wanted, but we needed to keep working on other projects and didn’t know what else to do. We got burned and took it as a lesson learned.