Fix What Ails Ya

23 01 2012

I have mentioned before that I’m a big believer in fixing what bugs you about your house.  Sometimes, it’s easy to get used to just dealing with those little annoying things, but after a while, those annoying things can all bond together and create a general unease that you can’t identify.

So I try to fix the things that bug me when I realize it.

Today, I fixed two of those things.

Yesterday, I was tired (big surprise, I wake up every day feeling like I’ve pulled an all-nighter) and I lazed around a bit, until I got sick of myself and decided to really clean the first floor of the house. I was a bit stressed out about something, so this was a really good remedy for that too. I moved furniture, vacuumed baseboards, and steam cleaned the floor. And that’s when it hit me…

It drives me CRAZY that the dogs leave dirty footprints on the floor that build up until I want to tear my hair out. No matter what mat I keep by the back door, no matter how many times I wipe their feet with a towel, it inevitably happens – there’s a lot of dirt in the yard, and the little guy loves to find it. Plus, it rains a lot here.

People always suggest that taking off your shoes when you come into a house is a good way to keep the dirt outside.  Yes, that’s true.

Unless you have dogs. In particular, basset hounds with huge feet.

So it occurred to me…I could put a rug down in the kitchen!

It would warm up the space (I have old insulation under the house, so the floors are cold – I know, I know, it’s something I need to fix from underneath, but I’m just not there yet) and it would show dirt less than the floor do.

Originally, my plan was to take the rug from my office to use in the kitchen. That was yet another thing bugging me that I dealt with last week – the rug in there constantly shifts and moves because it’s on top of carpet, and my desk chair always pushes it around.  It drives me NUTS to be constantly fixing it, so I finally took it up.

My secondary plan for that rug is to stick it on the deck – it’s an indoor/outdoor rug.  I thought I might put it in the kitchen, but I wasn’t thrilled about it not being softer. But then I was in Walmart earlier (they really do have some good things, but I was actually there to pick up dog food, since they’re the only ones that carry huge bags of Nutrish) and saw a deep red shag-type rug. I thought it would go perfectly in the black and white (and soon to be grey-walled) kitchen, so I got that along with my rubber matting and I was set.

So tonight, when my pups came in from the rainy outside, they left one paw print on the floor which I wiped up with the feet towel, and then, nothing! Problem solved.

The other issue I’ve been having is with one of my vacuums. I know, it’s ridiculous that I have more than one.  I actually have four.  One is a heavy duty carpet vacuum that my sister gave me when she moved into a house with a central vac – that stays upstairs because it’s too heavy to truck up and down the stairs.  I also have a pet spot steam cleaner vacuum that I got after the puppy arrived, for the obvious reasons.

Downstairs, I have my steam cleaner for the floor – it was originally supposed to be the sole first floor vacuum, but the vacuum part actually doesn’t work that well, so I end up vacuuming first, then using the steam cleaner – but it’s worth it, because it also has a function to suck up the water. I love it.

And finally, the floor vacuum.  This was the one bugging me – I got it three years ago when I moved in, so I guess it’s done it’s job (it was only $50 after all), and while it still does a decent job, I can’t turn it off.

No, seriously.

Unless I unplug it, it’s just on.  That gets kind of annoying.

Now, these are clearly first world problems. They’re not keeping me up at night.  However, they are problems I can control, and as I said, I believe in fixing what bugs me – then I have the energy to deal with everything else. So I picked up a new vacuum today too – it’s got a lovely little carpet attachment, among others (which means I can properly clean the downstairs rugs, instead of running the floor steam vac over them), and it’s also got a smaller floor attachment that allows me to get under things like chairs and sideboards.  I used to it vacuum the new rug tonight, which was shedding everywhere, and I was in love.

Now I’ve got to get motivated to clean upstairs as thoroughly as downstairs.  Because the piles of things I’m stashing everywhere are really starting to bug me!

What are some of your pet peeves?

More Cookin’ Going on Here!

21 01 2012

Normally, I really enjoy cooking…well, if I’m honest, I actually enjoy baking more than cooking.

And when you’re cooking for one, at the end of the work day, it can be a bit exhausting.  So I admit that the last year or so, I’ve been doing more of what’s easy than what’s good for me.  But I’m working on that this year (though so far, a little less successfully than I’d like!).  At any rate, this week I’ve made two new dishes – on Thursday, when it was finally warm enough to be downstairs to cook, I made my first whole chicken!

I cheated a little, because I got one of those roasters that is pre-seasoned.  And I made Stove Top.  But I did make mashed potatoes from scratch, and used my handy dandy meat thermometer to make sure the chicken was fully cooked to 180 degrees.  And it came out great!

However, I’m not sure if any of you have this problem – but I find when I spend a while cooking something, by the time it comes to eat it, I don’t feel like eating.  Which sort of defeats the purpose of all that work! Does anyone else find that?

I may have found the perfect solution to that problem though – the slow cooker! Because then, I can do the work of preparing the meal much earlier in the day, set it up in the slow cooker, and walk away for 5-8 hours. Then, I’m hungry when the food is ready! I was excited to break out the slow cooker for the first time this week, and my first meal was beef stroganoff. I was worried that the recipe I’d found for the slow cooker wouldn’t be as good as my dad’s recipe for making it, but it actually turned out really well. I set the meat, mushroom soup, Worcestershire sauce, and water on to cook (for five hours because I had to defrost the meat) and then as it came closer to eat, I threw some noodles on the stove to accompany it and put in the last ingredient – cream cheese.  Easy-peasy lemon squeezy, and the best part was that the dishes were almost all done by the time dinner was ready! And the pieces to the slow cooker go right in the dish washer.


The only thing I would change would be to have the meat defrosted the night before, so that it can cook for eight hours on low – the meat was good, but a bit tough, so I think if it cooked for longer on a lower setting, it would be more fork tender. But the taste was pretty good! The next recipe I’m going to attempt in the slow cooker is a chicken tikka masala recipe I found – we’ll see how that goes! Do you have any slow cooker recipe favorites to share?

The other thing I found out that I like is omelettes. I’ve never been an overly big fan of eggs, and I’m still not totally crazy about them, but when I was in DC on business recently, checking out one of the tours for a group I’m bringing there in a couple of months, the local planners and I did a little cooking lesson – making omelettes. I learned how to make them the proper French way – which is not for breakfast, but heartier, for lunch or dinner. That’s an easy dish to make for one, so I’ve done those for dinner a few times lately too (with gruyere cheese in them – yummy! Though, it’s not particularly easy to find a good gruyere cheese down here at the shore).

So I’ve realized that there are a few things that I need in a meal – it’s got to be something easy and quick. I like the process of cooking, but I have trouble coming up with what I’d really like, and so I wait to eat…and then I’m starving, so I just go for something easy, which generally isn’t healthy.  And I need the ideas,  and to remind myself that it’s better when I come up with them in advance and have a plan – when I don’t have a plan, I get easily overwhelmed (I’m not a clear thinker when I’m hungry) and then not-so-great decisions get made.

Now that I’ve figured out those things about myself, I need to work on coming up with the ideas and doing the right shopping. I’ll get there.  The next step is figuring out what to do about lunch – it’s the meal I hate the most. I like sandwiches, but never for lunch for some reason, and that’s when I’m guiltiest of grabbing something less than healthy…or maybe eating a yogurt, and then two cupcakes.  It definitely saps my energy and when I’m tired, I’m less likely to have the energy to make something good for dinner. Even something as simple as pasta!

What struggles do you face with cooking and coming up with ideas? I’m also the queen of picky eating (after my sister, of course :)), so that adds to my difficulties!

This Week on Pinterest

21 01 2012

As always, I’ve been pinning away…although tonight, I was actually working on doing some of the crafty projects I’ve found on Pinterest (hence, the lateness of this post).

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite things from this week:

I love a good accent wall:



I love the idea of using a paint stripe and hooks like this!


This was tonight’s dinner – will recap that tomorrow!


This picture cracks me up every time. If you have basset hounds, you know this is what they look like when they’re running!

Source: via Lindsay on Pinterest


I should frame this for my house.


This made me tear up – till they all come home.


Daniel – gotta have a Daniel photo.

Source: via Lindsay on Pinterest


Isn’t this fabulous?


How sweet is this guy’s face?!?


I love this idea – a DIY I could do!


I should have pinned this a long time ago – I’ve been crocheting this cowl since before Christmas, and while it’s a bit of a pain to do, it’s so beautiful!

And finally, my new love – the show Sherlock from BBC! I’ve already seen all of series 2 online, and I can’t believe there are only three episodes per series!

Source: via Lindsay on Pinterest


19 01 2012

Well, I’m back.

And the good news is that it looks like the sponsors of SOPA and PIPA are backing down from their bill.  We’ll see what happens in the vote on the 24th. Keep signing those petitions!

The other GREAT news is that today, my heat is back on!

I was really hoping that the furnace guy would come yesterday, particularly since I wasn’t feeling well, but that was a no go. So the boys and I snuggled in my bed and watched tv while trying to stay warm.

When I got up this morning, it was 46 degrees on the first floor. Brr!

It warmed up to 50 by midday, and finally, just before three, the furnace guy called. It only took him a half hour to put the new part in and get the furnace up and working – it’s so quiet, I can’t even really hear it.

BIG difference from the rattling it was making before – so that’s another tip for you; if your heater is so loud that you have to turn the tv up to hear over it, there’s something wrong with the fan. Get it checked out!

Anyway, it took a couple of hours for the temperature to come back up to 70, and I’ve spent three days being cold, so 70 felt like the tropics!

A working furnace meant I could cook tonight instead of having to order pizza – it’s not that my oven wasn’t working, it’s just that it was too cold to be downstairs for more than a few minutes! So tonight, I made my first whole chicken (I feel like a cheated a little, because I got one of those Purdue roaster bags), stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.

It all tasted delicious, but when I cook a big meal like that, I find that by the time I get to eating it, I don’t feel like eating! But leftovers will be had (and maybe turned into other things as well)!

The pups were very excited about the chicken. I didn’t share, but my little guy did try to figure out how to counter surf so he could snag the chicken. Good thing I was paying attention and put a quick stop to that.

Once dinner was done, I was VERY excited to finish the hutch – the extra piece came yesterday…or so I thought.

An extra piece did come yesterday, yes.

It was even labeled part B.

But it certainly wasn’t the piece I need. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I think it’s a piece to the buffet part of the hutch. And of course, I have to wait until tomorrow to call them and complain. I should have known better, because a lot of the reviews on Target said that other people were having this problem, but I was hoping for the best. Ugh. So more waiting, when here I was, excited for the hutch to be done!

At any rate, I’ve got some home projects brewing in my mind, which hopefully I’ll get started on soon – this is the best time of year for them because the days are cold and there isn’t much to do, so it’s nice to putter around.  But that being said, I have a girls’ day planned on Saturday for lunch and the movies, so any home projects will have to wait!

Still Cold and Going Dark Tomorrow

17 01 2012

So, no furnace.

I waited for what felt like forever for the furnace guy to call me at 3pm today and tell me that the part won’t be in until tomorrow or Thursday at the latest.  Good thing it was mild here today, because being in the house was manageable. I set up the space heater last night in my room, and kept it running in there while I worked from my laptop on the bed. It was almost toasty.

To my delight (this is sarcasm), I woke up with symptoms of a head cold this morning – I feel that there is NO connection to the heating situation, only the wacky weather we’ve been experiencing. It was 5 degrees the other night, and tonight? It’s 54 at 10:30.  That’s ridiculous.

So I picked up some delicious chicken noodle soup at Shoprite – they make it fresh for their soup bar, did you know that? It is SO darn good. I got extra so I can have some tomorrow too – snuggled myself in my fleece pants after dinner, and have been whiling away the hours on my computer, finishing up some work and blogging.  When you work from your bed with your laptop, it’s kinda hard to shut down!

Which brings me to tomorrow.  You may or may not know about SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act.  Well tomorrow, a number of pretty big companies will be going web-dark to protest this bill, and I’ll be joining them.  I blogged about it over here on, where I’m an honorary Canadian. So no post from me tomorrow…and get yer googling done tonight, because they will be dark too.  WordPress is also in on the fun, so I won’t be able to blog from here anyway.

But, I am hoping that tomorrow brings the piece to my hutch that I’m STILL lacking.  Not that it’s warm enough in the kitchen to work in there on it (there’s a 6 degree difference between the house and outside. No, really.) but I can’t WAIT to be done and start using the hutch! It would also be nice if the furnace could be fixed tomorrow. 48 hours of cold is doable, but I’m not sure if I’m up for 72.

In other homeownerly news, after the furnace debacle last night, the closet door in my bedroom also came clean off the hinges as I tried to open it. Really, never a dull moment around here.  I guess it’s telling me to get my butt in gear and paint in there.  As soon as I feel a bit better…

Tip for Monday

16 01 2012

This post could also easily be titled, Dear Crawl Space: I hate you.

In case you didn’t know.

This afternoon, I headed out to the happiest place on earth, in my book…Michaels.  My parents had given me a gift card there for my birthday (wahoo!), and I had plans to spend it! So after getting some crafty things and stopping at Staples for a new little shredder (the perfect companion for my NeatDesk!), I headed home.

And smelled a weird smell.

At first, I thought it was one of the dogs.  We’ve had a lot of gross things going on with the dogs lately (which I won’t go into for you sanity), so I thought the smell involved them.  But then when I went to turn the heat up because I was a little chilly, I realized that although the thermostat said the furnace was on, the temperature was only 67 degrees. And I keep it at 70.


The furnace has, admittedly, been a wee bit noisy lately, and I was kicking myself for not getting it serviced as I’d originally planned to do in August (tip #1 for you – service your furnace. Apparently, it’s a good idea to do this yearly. I have done this never – learn from me).  I took a little look-see in the hated crawl space, you know, the most logical place for a furnace when you live on land that floods even if the clouds are *thinking* about rain.

It didn’t smell and the furnace looked the same to me – I’m no expert – so I headed back inside and shut the system off to give it a minute.  I tried turning it back on and nothing. Nada. Fabulous.

My mom suggested I get in touch with the heating people tonight so that I could at least get on their list for tomorrow. I knew that my neighbors had really liked the guy who relocated their furnace to the shed (possible in my house only if they jackhammer the concrete floor…and I have a spare $5000).  So I called over there to get his name and number (I know I have it somewhere, but can’t remember where – tip #2 – I’m now putting his number in my phone under “Furnace”). They told me to head on over where we talked about a couple of possibilities and I got the information, and my neighbor (the neighbor who spirited me to the ER about a month ago) came over to see if perhaps it was an issue with the thermostat.

It wasn’t.

I called the furnace guy and his wife said he’d be over within the hour – SWEET. So I quick opened up the crawl space, turned the light on, and threw the dogs upstairs with a bone and the ID channel.

The furnace guy is so nice, and I knew he’d be fair.  That didn’t mean I didn’t pray and stand outside the crawl space with my fingers crossed as he was working under there. It turns out that the fan assembly that pushes the flue gases out was “red-hot” as the furnace guy said, and kaput.  It was all rusted (thank you water in the crawl space), and rather than turning, it was shaking back and forth.  When that isn’t working, the rest of the furnace won’t even come on – a safety feature, I’m assuming, to keep the gases from backing up into the house (which I appreciate, and also explains the smell). So he shut the whole thing down (to keep the fan from possibly catching fire – that was the other reason I looked under the house pretty much right away) and he’ll be able to come tomorrow to replace the part.


It’s not exactly inexpensive (the part is the most expensive one to replace on the entire furnace, of course), but it’s FAR less expensive than replacing the whole thing. So that’s the good news.

And I remembered when I was out there that I have a space heater that my dad got me the last time my furnace went awry. Wahoo.

Since it’s not too terribly cold inside yet (note I said “yet” – it’s going to be bitter outside tonight), I stuck the heater in my bedroom with the door closed to get it all snuggly warm for me and the boys tonight. We’ll get all bundled up and hope for the best, and tomorrow, keep our fingers crossed that the furnace guy can get here first thing!

Never a dull moment, right?

Also, on an unrelated note, I took a blogging hiatus yesterday as a moment of silence, so to speak, because a dear friend lost her mom early yesterday morning. It’s a very tough time for her, particularly since she spent SO much time with her mom in the hospital over the last year, so please send good thoughts to her.

Lazy Saturdays

14 01 2012

Today ended up being a VERY lazy day because I’ve been battling a migraine.  Tonight, I’m feeling much better than earlier (it turned out I really needed to eat even though I wasn’t feeling up to it), but just really wiped out.  So I didn’t get any of the things I had planned for today done, though I did manage to get one load of laundry out of the dryer and another one out of the wash and INTO the dryer, I unclogged a toilet, and I took my puppy for a short walk.  That seems pretty accomplished to me!

Tomorrow, I hope to be FAR more motivated and feeling better. I’d like to straighten up the house and do a bit of cleaning, break out the sewing machine and get my craft on (I have SO many projects that I want to try!) and just sort though some of the piles of things I have floating around.

I also need to get serious about my decluttering. I feel like it got waylaid when my hutch project halted in its tracks over the piece I had to re-order, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the house has to suffer! And I need to make some plans for when I’m going to finish painting the hallway, finish painting the closets and so on and so on.

But we all need lazy Saturdays too, right? And I must say that my pups have been awfully good, considering I’ve been napping or lying on the couch pretty much all day.  The little guy even napped in my bed with me for an hour this afternoon, and normally he’s far too excited that he can climb all over me to fall asleep, so I was very proud of him!


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