Category Archives: Housekeeping – Maintenance

Fresh Fish

My fish didn’t complain, but I have neglected them since Mother Nature fried so many of our things. I finally took the time today to vacuum their aquarium, put in fresh scenery, and nice fresh water.

 

The largest goldfish is almost too large to swim through the barrels, but the other three do it regularly.

 

Things will settle a bit more, but the fish definitely have a new lease on life today.

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YAHOOOOO!

 

Am I excited about my new clothes washer? You’d better believe I am!!!!

Since Mother Nature fried a LOT of our stuff about 3 weeks ago, including our clothes washer,  I’ve been washing clothes in our kitchen sink. I almost looked online to see if I could find the old washing boards people used to use. Needless to say, we have a LOT of laundry that is waiting for attention.

The washer was delivered this morning by two really nice men. They had a big truck (but not a semi). They BACKED it up the driveway! Our driveway is steep. It is 650+ feet from the road to our house. And they managed to BACK the truck up to the top. The first thing I said was that I was so impressed with their driving.

They took the old washer and pedestal out. Then they told us that they couldn’t install the washer because we wanted to use the old pedestal.

SO – They brought the pedestal back inside, then brought the new washer in, and went over with my husband what we would need to do to install it.

We had to lay the new washer down on its side. (The big dog bed was right there, so that made a good cushion.) We then screwed the old pedestal onto the new washer with much gnashing of teeth and a few bad words. We then managed to stand up the washer on the old pedestal, then move it carefully toward the place it would live. My husband took the ‘moving bolt thingies” out of the back of the washer, attached the power cord and the water hoses. We jockeyed it back and forth a little at a time, until it was in the right place.

We threw in all the towels that were used in the getting-rid-of-the-old and installing-the-new, threw in some soap and turned it on. It actually has a special cycle for towels! It hummed a bit. We re-read the manual. We were supposed to HOLD the start button down longer. It hummed again. Then my husband said more bad words because he figured out he forgot to turn on the water.

We turned the machine off, jockeyed it out far enough so he could turn on the water, then jockeyed it back into place.

Finally we had to put the drawer back in the pedestal. (That screws into place on runners.) The inside of the drawer was disgraceful. (did I mention that I’m an awful housekeeper?) so I got a wet cloth, mopped it out, dried it and then put stuff back in. (I actually like the pedestals because of the height they add to the front loading washer and dryer, rather than because of any storage, so the drawer probably hadn’t been opened since we got the set in 2005….)

The washer is now running happily, about half way finished with the towels. I have about a hundred (more or less) loads left to do – gathered over the past three weeks – so guess what I’ll be doing over the next few days!

I am truly delighted to have a washer going again. I’ve become spoiled and I really missed it.

It will be GREAT when all is clean again!

 

YAHOO!

 

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Garage Project is Finished!

Just to officially document that on OCCASION my area in the garage looks pretty reasonable, here are pics of the finished project for the day –

 

I hate to admit it, but usually I have trouble walking around in this area.

 

 

See – there IS a counter under all the ‘stuff.’  It’s a NICE counter, too – when you can SEE it….

Enough for today. It’s really too hot outside. I hope that you are indoors and comfortable.

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Today’s Project – Cleaning Out My Area in the Garage

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I just came in from Session # 1 out in the garage. I look a lot like the poor kitty above. Picture an old lady with paper towels, a red face, and a BIG glass of ice water….

The weather folks say the heat index today is between 103 and 106, and I believe them!  I’m going to rest and drink a LOT of water before doing another session.

My area in the garage is the catch-all for everything that doesn’t have a permanent home. This includes cases of bottled water, cases of sugar-free pop, gallons of Zero Peach Iced Tea, and then the tools we have ready when we finally run out of excuses not to start the rebuild on the second brick planter that collapsed, plus bird feeders, plant food, bug killers, weed killers, planting tools, stools, roll-around stools, plastic buckets, bags of quik-crete, a new seed and ‘stuff’ spreader, my elliptical trainer, etc. etc., etc. (Aside – are you old enough that what I just said reminds you of Yul Brynner from “The King and I?”)

The other day I moved a bunch of stuff out to the greenhouse, but if you didn’t watch me do it, you wouldn’t know by the amount of stuff still stashed here. It’ll probably take two or three more sessions to make some sense of the area.  If I don’t die off of heat stroke before finishing, I’ll take some pics of the ‘healed’ area so you’ll know it’s clean and organized SOMETIMES. :0)

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Freezer Diving

Webstaurant Store

This freezer is very similar to ours. Ours has three heavy plastic bins that hang across the top.

Since things tend to go INTO this freezer and never be seen again, today’s project is to clean it out and reorganize it for actual cooking again.

For those of you who don’t know – and can’t imagine anyone having a problem like this – my husband and I have been trying to lose the lard for a bit over a year, starting mid April of 2018. We signed up for Nutrisystem. Except for planned cooking or go-out meals (one each for breakfast, lunch and dinner each week)  I haven’t been cooking. We stopped the Nutrisystem program and  have recently started the Keto eating plan. I like the idea of eating real world meals again, with leftovers, etc., but have to gear up for it.

I’ve finished PHASE I of the project this morning. Can you believe I had stuff in there from 2013? I KNOW!  :0/  I filled TWO doubled leaf bags!

I’m resting now, gearing up for PHASE II, which is trying to make sense of what is in there and reorganizing it so I can find things quickly and stuff hopefully won’t be ‘lost in the ozone’ again.  I’m hoping that I can actually move some stuff that is in our fridge freezer out there, making space for more frozen veggies and fruit INSIDE.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

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Pantry is Finished!

It’s far from perfect, but MUCH cleaner and more organized than it was. It was almost like a treasure hunt. I found things I didn’t know I had!

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Cleaning Out the Pantry – AGAIN

Contemporary Closets

I’m lucky. I have a ROOM we use as our pantry. Being lucky is sometimes a double-edged sword, though. Having ROOM results (in OUR house) in things going in and never coming back out.

Ours doesn’t look as bad as this one, but right now ours looks as if a bomb had struck. I’m trying to do a combination of things with the clean out and reorganization –

  • get rid of things that are past a sell or use by date
  • box up the remaining Nutrisystem stuff (I read some of the labels again and was appalled that ONE meal exceeds my carb limit for the day!)
  • reorganize for more actual cooking going on (I got spoiled when we were on the commercial diet. Now I’ll be cooking most meals- plus gearing up to feed our male 16-year-old Italian soccer-playing foreign student who arrives August 6th.
  • I’m gearing up to be able to stick with the keto eating plan for me, and the main things my husband eats, plus be able to add some pasta, or bread, or cereal, etc. for our new ‘son’ for the coming school year.

I’ve spent an hour so far, and am about to do another session. It will take several before things are ‘good,’ but I’m happy to be getting my act together.

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Good Intentions

Word Porn via Meade Dennis Adams

This is me in a nutshell.

I have a boatload of good intentions, but get distracted easily. This results in guilty feelings. If I’m doing something INside, I feel guilty about the things that need doing OUTside, and vice versa.

Yesterday my husband mowed the lawn, so we look pretty good out there right now – particularly if you ignore the fact that we have a collapsed brick planter in the front yard with a tarp load of potting soil covered in front of it.  I figured that the LEAST I could do was use the leaf blower to clean up the sidewalks. THAT led to using the leaf blower to clean up our garage , and THAT led to blowing off the garage pad…

When I came INside, I remembered that I really needed to clean off our stove top. The dishwasher is happily cleaning the removable stuff, and I finally got the top cleaned up. When I get it put back together, I won’t want to USE it – messing it up again. :0)

I DID manage to change out the aquarium filter – hoping that that will put off my having to change the water and clean it out immediately. And THAT led to watering the poor window sill plants that were sitting there, hands around their parched throats – saying, “Linnnnnn-daaaaaaaa!” HOPING I would finally notice them.

I very carefully ignored the pollen-covered porch – again – while sitting down to rest. I really DO need to vacuum the first floor today. It’s to the point where the balls of dog and cat hair grab your leg as you walk by.

I realize I’ll never get completely caught up, with all the stuff done inside and out, particularly since my husband mentioned a few minutes ago that he wants to get started rebuilding the brick planter tomorrow…

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Clean Digs for the Fish

Between outside pushes of activity before the next rain, then inside activities, trying to catch up from when working outside – the poor fish were fed, but otherwise neglected lately. Today I took everything out, used the vacuum to clean the rocks, put in new, treated water and decorations, and finally, the fish.

They haven’t said much, but I know they are secretly whispering to each other that it was about time something was done…

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A Productive Day

Animal Wallpapers – Desktop Nexus

We got up this morning, intending to start rebuilding the second brick planter, but looked at each other and decided we felt too old and creaky. We agreed to think about it tomorrow – like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. :0)  We went grocery shopping instead and plan to take it much easier today.

Yesterday we accomplished a lot –

  • We figured out why our irrigation system wasn’t working in the back. After my husband looked at the switches and the control box in the well house, he followed the hose from the well house to the ‘tree’ of hoses that go to the back.  He found a “monster” kink in the main hose. We don’t know HOW it became kinked, since that is in the woods and not mowed, but he was able to splice the hose where it was damaged and the water flowed again!
  • Oh!  I have to pat myself on the head a bit. My husband asked me to reprogram the control box. I looked and looked, but couldn’t find the paperwork on how to do it. I finally went out and pushed buttons, hoping a main screen would come up. It did! I was able to reprogram year, month, day, time, and watering durations for the front and back!
  • I mixed up a 2-gallon canister of KilzAll and sprayed all around our garden and around our shop – hopefully murdering lots of weeds.
  • We cleaned up the work area around the first planter we rebuilt. We had extra concrete to shovel, bricks to haul away, etc. I took a chisel and a hammer and cleaned up the front of the planter as much as I could. I have to tell you, it looks pretty bad. It is sturdy and it holds the potting soil, so we’re declaring it a win. We’ll attach the PVC pipe set up for irrigation and then it’s finished. We’ll try to do better on the second planter. AND we keep reminding ourselves that we’re not having to come up with $700!

So – a much more laid-back day – probably with a bit of weed whacking will suffice.

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The First Planter is Finished

Tail and Fur

We finished bricklaying on the first collapsed planter yesterday. We just came in from shoveling the potting soil we had tried to save under some tarps back into the planter. I’ve told you we are both long in the tooth. We managed to finish it, mainly because we are supposed to have lots of rain and severe weather here all day today. We didn’t want to lose all of the expensive potting soil we had tried so hard to save. The planters are about 2-1/2 feet high, so an 8 foot long planter holds a LOT of potting soil!  Whew! Sore backs abound!

I wasn’t going to work on the planter at all, but I discovered my husband had left the office. I went to find him in the living room – assuming he was in his chair reading. He wasn’t, so I started looking around, finding him shoveling. I grabbed another shovel from the garage and we finished the job in about 45 minutes. I then moved all the bricks that were holding the tarps in place behind the well house. We are now ready for the rain, except I just remembered that I need to transfer the two tarps to the burn barrel.

We worked on the planter on the far end of the house for good reason. It doesn’t look good at all. It is sturdy, though, and seems to be holding the potting soil nicely, so we’ll call it a win and try to do a better job aesthetically on the other collapsed planter that is closer to the driveway.

Before we buy plants for it, we’ll need to reattach the pvc pipe for the irrigation system. Then the fun starts, with discussions about what we want to plant. I’m going for perennials, as much as possible, hopefully with some nice color in at least one season. I can dot annuals in for more color without killing myself.

I am hoping that we will rest for a day or so before starting the second planter…

Happily, we tried the new-to-Greenwood Domino’s Pizza last night. We got a medium pan supreme pizza and it was delicious! We ate half of it, so we can finish it tonight and I don’t have to cook!!

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The Character-and-Planter-Building Continue

Yesterday’s session was hard because we had to haul a lot of bricks over to the site, gather all the tools, run the water hose, etc. Today’s session was harder because we put too much water in the mix, resulting in mortar that was waaaaay too thin to use. We got back in the truck and went to town and bought 3 more bags of mortar.

We added about a third of the second bag to the mix when we got back and then it was usable. We need five rows of bricks for the planter, and today we finished the third row. We washed everything and came in with red faces, huffing and puffing, in need of cool drinks.

We’re hoping to finish the first planter tomorrow morning. Tomorrow afternoon and evening and into Sunday rain is forecast, so once we finish the first planter we’ll take a bit of a break before starting the second.

No one would think these were done by a professional, but the bricks we laid yesterday were nice and solid. As long as they’re sturdy and hold the potting soil, we’ll be satisfied.

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Another of Life’s Character-Building Projects…

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Awhile back I told you that two of our 8 foot long brick planters collapsed.

30 years ago we built 14 planters around the yard, so I guess the fact that 2 of them only lasted 30 years is a pretty good result from people who had/have no clue what they were/are doing. :0)

 

When the planters collapsed, we used a sledge hammer to knock the rest of the bricks down. We couldn’t get the lowest row to let go of the concrete slab we poured, so we cleaned things up the best way we could and declared victory. We shoveled the potting soil from the planter onto the blue tarp you see here and then covered it with another one and put used bricks on top to hold it until we’re ready to fill the planter again. We filled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow with the used bricks and stacked them up behind the well house.

Today we started the rebuilding project in earnest. We bought a pallet of bricks a couple of months ago. We bought 2 bags of mortar this morning, thinking these would be enough for one planter. We wheel-barrowed the bags over to the planter that is on the far side of the house. We used a dolly to bring enough bricks for this planter over to the work area. It was really a job to get the heavy plastic off the pallet of bricks and then stack them on the dolly and wheelbarrow them over to the planter. We did this three times to get enough over there.

I stretched a hose from the back of the house around to the front, and we found the special hoe that has two holes in it that we use for mixing mortar. We went out to the shop to find the trowels we needed.

We mixed one of the bags of mortar. We had forgotten how long it takes to actually mix that stuff! You think it’s good, and then you uncover some that is absolutely dry at the bottom of the wheelbarrow.

We decided we would work until we had used up the mortar in the wheelbarrow. By the time that was done, it was all we could do to clean up the tools and the wheelbarrow. It isn’t super hot today – 86 degrees F. – but we were really hot and tired when we came in. My face was bright red as if I had gotten sun-burned. I knew that wasn’t true because both of the planters are mostly in the shade.

We got huge glasses of ice water and drank them down pretty quickly. I fixed us some lunch and we ate in our chairs in the living room. The next thing we knew, we were both waking up from taking naps in our chairs!

We have agreed that what we did this morning would be it for the day. We’ll probably do one bag of mortar a day until the first planter is done. We now think that each planter will need a bit more than 3 bags of mortar. We’re supposed to be getting rain late Saturday. We think we can finish bricking the first planter, but we may save the second planter until next week.

If I needed more motivation to lose another 30 pounds, I now have it. We are also newly learning how much of a difference 30 years makes in laying bricks. This will be a character-building exercise for us. I see Tylenol, back pain gel, and yoga stretches in my future. :0)

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Good News – Bad News

123RF.com

I already told you that two of the fourteen planters we built around the yard collapsed. We’ve been trying to get bricklayers to come and give us estimates on rebuilding them for us. We have the brick already, waiting on a pallet. We already have concrete bases ready to receive the brick.

GOOD NEWS – Today I finally got a call. Because of all the rain we’ve been getting, one of the guys we’ve been trying to reach called and got directions to come give us an estimate!

BAD NEWS –  The bricklayer was really nice. He even put up with Amber greeting him when he opened the truck door, covering him with kisses. I finally got her into the house and we looked at things. His estimate for the job was $700. That’s too steep for us, particularly since we’ve already had to buy the bricks.

SO – when the monsoon is finally over and it looks like we’ll have several dry days in a row, we’ll go to the local hardware store and buy umpteen bags of Qwik-Crete and will rebuild the planters ourselves. Even though we don’t know what we’re doing, the other 12 planters we built some 30 years ago lasted, so maybe we’ll do well enough again.

I’m excited about getting them functional again and deciding what we’ll plant…

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Housekeeping

Country Corner via Carla Morton

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Working on Our Irrigation System

DripDepot

Each year my husband does his magic, making our irrigation system work again. This year we’ve had more of a challenge.

It’s been a LOOOOOONG time since we put things together in the well house. We had a really bad leak last night after testing things. My husband changed a hose connection, making the leak much better, but it didn’t solve the problem completely. This morning we found a replacement valve thingie on the net and ordered it.

Our timer for the systems, front and back, was acting wonky, even after we unplugged, rebooted, and changed the backup battery. We bought a new one today that we’ll install this afternoon or evening – weather cooperating. The face of it is backlit, making it much easier to see. Hopefully, we can get it programmed correctly.

We had the inevitable blow-outs that happen because of the system being exposed to our weather. We can’t completely drain everything, though we drain what we can. Most of the front is working, but we have to figure out where the breakdown is and try to fix it so that everything is getting water again.

A couple of places aren’t working the way they should, not allowing us to control the amount of water flowing into a pot. We bought replacement parts for that, plus some end caps for lines we’re not needing this year. We’ll keep testing and reworking things until all is happy.

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Reclaiming Our Screened Porch

Amber helped us reclaim our porch yesterday. It started with my husband removing three 4 x 8 foot sheets of plywood we had laid end to end across the bottom of the screened part of the porch and screwed into the uprights to try to keep Amber from destroying it. We decided that even though she is still definitely a puppy, we could now risk reclaiming part of our view.

We had an enormous amount of dirt, dog and cat hair, and a super-thick layer of pollen all over everything. I moved everything around, wiping the table and sweeping twice before ever trying to do more. Finally I got to the place where I could actually start CLEANING things, rather than simply uncovering them.

Our porch isn’t fancy, but we love the few weeks each year that we can eat out there, free from bugs and enjoying some glorious weather. Right now it’s too chilly for breakfast, perfect for lunch, and too chilly for dinner. We’re hoping to enjoy several meals before Mother Nature turns up the heat too much.

The porch is connected to our covered deck – again not fancy – but definitely a quality of life thing for us. I just planted a bunch of flowers in the deck planters, and we’re working on making sure the irrigation system is working properly to keep all happy out there.

I hope that you have a place that you can “bring the outside in” a bit, too.

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Beautiful Day to be Outside

indulgy.com

I just came in from my third session of weed-whacking this afternoon. To say I’m done for the day is an understatement, but I’m glad I made some significant progress on neatening things up. My husband mowed the lawn a couple of days ago, and it was only fair that I get out and do the trimming. He actually came out with me the third time, hooked up the water that will go to the bird bath and then held the cord for me, gathering it up when we finished for the day.

Weed whacking is one of those jobs that is never finished. You know you’ve made some progress, but there are other places all around the yard speaking to me as I get near, saying, “Look at me! Look at me!”

We’re supposed to have several days of good weather, so I’ll plan to get out and do more tomorrow. Next up – around my greenhouse and around the garden.

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Before the Rain

Living Well Mom via thenannyleague.com

 

We rushed around this afternoon trying to get our yard work accomplished before the first rain of many came. We made it with minutes to spare!

My husband mowed the lawn while I planted six tomato plants in the brick planters beside the house that we converted to square foot garden planters, and then I planted spinach seeds directly in the garden, since the ones I’ve tried to start in the greenhouse still haven’t done anything. Then I put fertilizer all around.

I came back to the house just as my husband was finishing the lawn. We got out our pressure washer so that we could get some of the gunk off the riding mower engine and surrounding area, so now it’s cleaner than it has been in quite a while. It started sprinkling just as we were putting the power washer away.

We’re supposed to have several waves of rain – some storms possibly severe – throughout the rest of the afternoon, into the evening and into tomorrow.  It feels good to have gotten things done in time. Now we can relax and mindlessly watch TV or read the rest of the day and evening.

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Filed under Gardening, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Mother Nature, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Happy Fish

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Today I finally got off my duff and cleaned the aquarium. All told it takes about 45 minutes from start to finish, so it isn’t that much to ask. The only thing my fish actually get excited about, though, is eating time, twice a day, when they bunch up in the right front corner of the aquarium and wriggle their little bodies, opening and closing their mouths rapidly. So it’s easy to walk by and ignore the fact that I should be cleaning out their digs and providing some different decorations to stimulate their imaginations.

Things look much better now. They’re exploring a bit, but no wriggles, gaping mouths, or other signs of real interest yet.

This doesn’t happen at our house, although we have two cats who would probably eat our fish given the chance. They seem to prefer birds.

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Good Day

Rebloggy

I’m tired now, and am finished trying to be productive today – other than cooking fish for dinner later.

It’s a gorgeous day – 67 degrees F. and sunshine-y. I WISH I could finish prepping our square foot garden for planting, but I ran out of some of the ingredients for Mel’s Mix. I’ll try to get them tomorrow.

I decided to continue trying to clean out, declutter, and reorganize our office supply shelves. In the process, I’m finding several things I think others can use, so I’m bagging them up to donate to the Disabled Vets Thrift Store. I’ve thrown out a bunch (it’s a good thing our trash pickup is soon :0) ), and I’ve cleaned shelves. I’m trying to make FINDING and ACCESS paramount, since my husband gripes when he can’t find the extra staples, for example.

I ended up with a couple of bins for things we want to be able to find and use quickly. I put extras in a larger bin, but out of the way a bit. Throwing out enabled consolidation, so we actually have a bit of shelf empty now! HAH! :0)

I’ll work on the shelves again, but I made good progress today.

Now the rewards of my book, a cup of coffee, and my recliner. AHHHHH!

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We MAY Have Found a Bricklayer!

This is one of the two 8-foot brick planters that threatened to collapse. We built 14 planters around the house, but none of the others have had any problems. We’re not sure if we used bad mortar – that ONLY lasted 30 years, or if water froze on the inside causing the problem, but one corner split and then the whole side bulged out. We knocked one of the planters down several weeks ago, wrapping up the potting soil as best we could with tarps.

 

This is the second planter. We have the new bricks we need. We had looked for bricklayers, but hadn’t been successful. A friend of ours had the name and phone number of a bricklayer she thought might work with us. My husband called and left a message today on his phone. Fingers crossed that he is willing to help us and that he is affordable. Mixing mortar is a hard job, and it would be really nice if this rebuilding could be done by someone who knows what he’s doing, rather than merely one old couple who will do their best…

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New Careers?

My husband and I have decided to consider becoming weather forecasters post-retirement. I say this because –

  • we FINISHED the demolition of the 2nd failed brick planter, AND
  • we also put a tarp over my cement mixer behind the shop that we use to mix Mel’s Mix (the special soil replacement ingredients we use in our raised bed square foot planters

Because of these two things, we can practically assure everyone that the 40% chance we had of rain tomorrow morning is no longer applicable.

If we HADN’T finished and the soil wasn’t covered up, we would have had a deluge. We have proved this several times before in the 30+ years we’ve lived here. :0)

I’m thinking of calling our local weather guys and girls and letting them know there should be a change in the forecast….

Here is the 2nd 8 foot x 1-1/2 foot demolished-waiting-for-spring-for-us-to-rebuild-the-planter.

We did the work today in record time because the plant roots remaining weren’t completely root-bound and also we learned the best tools to use and techniques on the FIRST failed planter we demolished.

 

I hope the other people who live in our area weren’t depending on it raining tomorrow…. :0)

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Planter Project

 

Yesterday I told you that the weather forecast was for good weather until Tuesday of next week, when we’re due for another ‘wintry mix.’  I was happy because we wouldn’t be rushed on our demolishing of the 2nd of 2 planters that were falling apart.

Well, when I checked today, the forecast is NOW for a 40% chance of rain TOMORROW – morning!  Arrrrgh!!!!!!

You can see where we are now. We just finished our errands for the day and are resting a bit before we tackle this again. Since there is a good chance for rain tomorrow, we really need to see if we can get the dismantling done today, including digging out the remaining plants, digging out the rest of the potting soil, knocking down and hauling off the rest of the bricks, and then wrapping the tarp around the soil and putting bricks on top to try to save as much of the soil as possible for the rebuild in the spring.

My nose is out of joint right now about this –

  • It’s Valentine’s Day and I was hoping for a quiet day, with some time up in my art room. (We got some jumbo shrimp at the seafood place on the way home today from taking our tax stuff to our CPA. I peeled and cooked it, and it is cooling in the back fridge – but we may be dozing in our recliners from sheer exhaustion, rather than enjoying it tonight.)
  • We are a bit ‘long-in-the-tooth for this project. It’s probably a good character-building exercise to do it ourselves, but it would be so NICE not to have to get the whole demolition part into two days…

Okay. I hear you. Enough with the griping and on with the DOING.

I’ll post pics later today – or tomorrow… :0)

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Part II of Brick Planter Redo

Awhile back I told you that two of our brick planters desperately needed to be rebuilt. My husband tried to dig out a hydrangea bush in one of them and the whole front of the planter fell down into the yard. We spent the next few days digging out the plants, shoveling the potting soil onto a tarp, hauling the bricks out of the way, and then wrapped up the soil as best we could to try to save as much as possible for the spring rebuild.

Today on the way back from errands, my husband said he thought we should take advantage of the spring-like weather today and start demolishing the second planter.

 

We worked for a couple of hours so far. We got a huge hydrangea plant out that was totally root-bound. We knocked off as much soil as possible and then wheel-barrowed the remains and dumped it ‘off the edge of the earth’ (past the edge of what we call the civilized part of our 8 acres.)

We’ve moved a lot of bricks and potting soil, but decided to admit we’re old and call it a day.

 

Tomorrow we’ll hit it again. The weather forecast says we don’t have bad weather until Tuesday of next week. I hope they’re right. We would like to get this part of the project wrapped up as soon as possible.

In the spring, we’ll rebuild the two planters. We already purchased the bricks. We’re not sure if these planters failed because the mortar we used on them was bad, or that they had enough water in them that didn’t drain out properly and froze, breaking up the sides.

We built 14 brick planters around the yard and only 2 failed, so that’s a reasonable amount of success. These lasted over 20 years before failing, so hopefully they’ll last until long after WE are gone.

Hopefully, more progress pictures tomorrow.

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Today’s Continuing Project

When we built our home over 30 years ago, we used an entire room off the kitchen as our pantry. I’m lucky because we have a lot of space. It also causes some problems because I tend to stash way too much STUFF in here!

I went through our pantry when we switched to Nutrisystem almost a year ago. I cleaned a bunch of stuff out, gave away a bunch, packed other things away for much later….

Now we’re doing more flex meals, plus branching out. I need to reorganize the pantry so that things are easy to find, easy to get to, etc.

The side of the pantry in the picture above is the food side of the pantry.

On the back side is the pantry fridge, and then an L-shaped bunch of shelves that hold cleaning supplies, paper supplies, cooking pots, canning stuff – you name it.

I’m now working on getting things organized so that I can cook more without having to move a bunch of STUFF in order to get the pan I need, the ingredients I need….

I’m trying to do a bit each day. Today I’m giving it an extra push because it’s cold and rainy outside, we don’t need to go anywhere, and I want to accomplish more today than laundry and vacuuming. (Already done!)

I’m concentrating on the non-fo0d part of the pantry today. I’ll take pics if I make enough progress.

 

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My Day

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The rest of my house needs work, but our kitchen and dining area is finally clean. I basically spent all day on them. It was one of those ‘one-thing-leads-to-another things, where there was no place to stop once I really got going. The only problem now is that I don’t want to mess it up by cooking anything!

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Friday’s Reorganization Project

We use Pyrex bowls on a daily basis to eat out of, store food in, etc. We made the mistake of stacking them neatly, only to find that they stuck together. We had to devise a way to get them apart without breaking one or both of the stuck bowls – which worked intermittently. We started stacking them in the messy fashion you see above in order to keep them from sticking together.  We put all the lids together, but you try to pull one out and usually end up with a handful, or some falling onto the floor…

I recently bought a book called, “The REALSIMPLE Method to Organizing Every Room and How to Keep it That Way” by the makers of RealSimple magazine.

As with any suggestions, some would be NICE but aren’t workable in a given situation. I did come across a good suggestion for our Pyrex bowl storage problem! They suggested we put the lids on the bowls and THEN stack them. DUH! I was hitting my head wondering why “I” didn’t think of this. I just implemented the suggestion –

My husband, who is nice enough to help me fill the dishwasher, empty it, and put things away again, might not agree this is a good solution, but I’ll ask him to TRY it with me. It certainly LOOKS better, doesn’t it?

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Planter Project

The brick-lined rectangular slab on the right used to be a planter. We built it several years ago, along with 13 others, and all of a sudden it wasn’t happy, its sides bowing out a bit. One other planter just like it at the opposite end of the house needs to come down, too.

We weren’t planning to do anything about this until the spring. :0(

My husband decided he would dig out one of the hydrangea bushes in it, and the whole front of the planter collapsed, forcing us to get things to a reasonable point before our winter got serious. We lucked out, getting a few days of spring-like weather, so we knocked down the other bricks, hauled them to behind the well house where we stacked them up, dug out the potting soil and put it on the tarp to the left of the photo. We spent part of several days demolishing the planter. We’re a bit long-in-the-tooth now and sledge-hammering, shoveling, and hauling bricks tires us out pretty quickly.

We got to the bottom layer of bricks, but no matter what we used, they wouldn’t budge. This means we’ll do the brick laying to rebuild the planter ourselves, since no pro would touch it. We wrapped up the potting soil in the tarp, got another one to put on the top and held it down with bricks – to save as much of the potting soil as we can.  Just in time,  since the rains came and now we have the smallest rectangular ‘lake’ in the world – the bricks holding the water in on top of the concrete slab.

We bought replacement bricks several months back, so when the weather is cooperative and warm enough for the mortar to set well, we’ll try to demolish the other wounded planter and then get busy with the rebuilding. Since we’re now seriously heading into winter, this will probably be it on the planter project until the spring.

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I’m Feeling Sassy!

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I’m feeling sassy this morning because my first floor carpet is CLEAN for the first time in several years!

I’ve vacuumed and spot-cleaned, when necessary, to the point the only CLEAN spots – where we used RESOLVE – showed up horribly. I had put off using a professional carpet cleaning service because I’m a slob, but I don’t like to advertise the fact any more than I must.  It’s depressing, though, to be doing all you can and for the carpet to still look grungy when you finish.

I finally called a company called, ChemDry. They serve the Crawford and Sebastian County area in Arkansas. They use a method that uses a lot less water and chemicals that are safe for kids and pets – a really important thing to me. I lucked out. I called one day and they were due to be in our area the next day so I got an appointment for 1:30 in the afternoon yesterday!

1:30 came and went, but then we got a phone call from the cleaning guy. He said they were running an hour late. I said, “Fine,” and we waited. They came right at 2:30. I showed them what we wanted done and they both listened carefully. They were very careful moving their equipment in and out, (a real challenge with dog gates in each doorway), very courteous, and total professionals. At one point they had me come in to look before they were finished. There was a clear line between where they had cleaned and what was left to be done. Very impressive!

Alex also told me about a product to use on spots on the carpet that is better than Resolve. It’s called Benefect Decon 30. It comes in a gallon jug. You pour some on the spot. Let it dry. If there is any ring, you wipe with a damp cloth. I ordered some on Amazon yesterday afternoon.

It took them approximately two hours to do our living room, office, and foyer. The only ones a bit frustrated at the activity were our dogs, who were out on the back porch. After the guys had gotten a good start, I went out and sat on the porch with our doggies, who welcomed me as if it had been YEARS since we had last seen each other, and then calmed down. I again left them after spending about an hour out there. We enjoyed it because it was a beautiful, unusually warm day for Arkansas in January, and I saw THREE PAIRS of cardinals in the evergreen trees in one side of our back yard!

I left a good review on their website and am trying this morning to call and talk to the nice lady who schedules appointments. I have put their name and phone number in my contacts list and will call them again. They also clean tile and grout!

As I’m moving small stuff back in place, I’m SMILING at my carpet!!!

 

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Embarrassed

Yale Medicine

 

We have carpet cleaning people coming at 1:30 today to clean the carpet in our living room, office, and foyer on the first floor.

I’ve been moving the small stuff, but my husband insists he doesn’t want them to move anything except our chairs, as far as furniture is concerned.

Even with all the purging I’ve been doing over the past year, I’m amazed at how much STUFF we have on the floors!

I’m almost ready for them now. I vacuumed yesterday, but I know they’ll find a huge amount of dust, hair balls, and maybe even pencils, pens, cat toys, etc. under the heavy chairs. I’m hoping that they have really powerful vacuum cleaners when they come.

I chose a company called ChemDry because they don’t use nearly as much water. Their chemicals are safe for kids and pets (our two doggies and two cats will thank them for that. Our four fish are up on the divider between the kitchen and the dining area, so they don’t say much one way or the other.)  The carpet is supposed to be dry in 2 hours.

In the office, things are pretty unmovable, so we’ll just ask them to clean the areas that they can get to, moving only our chairs. We have huge metal file cabinets, my old desk, shelving, roll-around carpet pads, etc. If they can just make the areas they can get to cleaner, we’ll be happy.

The foyer is fairly clear of stuff. We’ll put the dogs out on the back porch. I’ve already moved their huge bed out there (along with a gazillion little things that were on the floors). My husband and I will probably stay in the dining area, reading books, while they work.

I feel the same way today that I do when someone replaces an appliance, and years worth of YUCK are under and behind them. I feel SURE that every other housekeeper in the world gets under and behind everything with a toothbrush, leaving the areas pristine. I’m a slob, finding all kinds of things I would rather do than clean house.

I’m still trying to get up into my art room and play, but I tend to zone out when I’m up there, so it won’t be this afternoon.

All appendages – plus my eyes – are crossed that – once they get over how dirty our carpet is – they will be able to do a good job for us.

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