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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

So Frustrating!



This is what I see on the screen at least ten times every time I'm online. I have a wireless connection, or at least I'm supposed to have a wireless connection, but I get this message about every third time I click on a link. Hit the back button, try again. Repeat.

I've cleaned all my files off the computer and am taking it to the shop today. So, no internet for me for awhile. I will fill the time visiting with Lil and my mom. See y'all soon!

Until next time, may you have blessings and a speedy connection,
Marti

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Master Bedroom Progress - Crown Molding

I think crown molding really finishes a room. This is the same molding we used in the girls' rooms, but I wanted corner pieces here to add a little luxury to the master bedroom and bathroom. As it turned out, crown molding is much easier to install with the corner pieces.

Before: (I didn't see any need in cutting in perfectly since it would be covered)


After corners:


Finished:


We opted not to scrape the popcorn off the bedroom ceilings, which meant that the crown molding didn't fit snugly against the ceiling. It would have to be caulked anyway, but this was harder. I am now the Queen of Caulking.

I still have to do the baseboards, but we haven't decided whether we are going to replace the carpet, replace with wood flooring, or just clean the carpet. So if the baseboard has to come up, I don't see any point in painting it now.

Oh, and I have a tip for those of you who save the little bit of paint you have in a can after painting a room. If you are like me, once you have poured the paint out of the gallon into the tray a couple of times, hammered the lid back on a few times, or painted out of the can, you know the lid gets harder and harder to get off. And then when you try to open it, the edge comes apart or is so bent it won't open or even close easily. Paint stored in a nearly empty can gets that thick film on top too, along with dried up paint pieces from opening the can.

But I found an easy way to keep paint for touchups, or even larger amounts. Put it in a clear soda bottle with a sports cap from a water bottle. (Even better if you can find a clear water bottle, the only ones I find are blue.) I save small amounts in the 20 ounce bottle. There is little chance for air to get in and since you pull open the top, your paint stays clean and fresh. Just remember to rinse the top off after each use so the top won't crust over with dried paint.



It doesn't have to be a Pepsi bottle, but you might as well enjoy the best.

Until next time, may you have blessings and smooth paint,
Marti

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yes, You CAN Replace Your Electrical Outlets. Here's How.

Your walls are freshly painted, your trim is gleaming with new enamel, and there are your ugly, paint spotted, flesh-colored electrical outlets. You don't have to live with them, replace them!

I have friends who are amazed that I have replaced my electrical outlets. They think it's too hard, or it takes an electrician. Not so. This is for them, and for anyone else who has ever wanted to replace an outlet. After your first one, you'll be able to replace an outlet in fifteen minutes at a cost of 49¢ plus tax.

You need a new standard outlet, a narrow screwdriver, a phillips-head screwdriver, and a pair of needle-nosed pliers. My screwdriver is a combination slot-head and phillips-head.



I May Never Have Grandchildren, But I Have a Granddog


Meet Shortstack. Brownie found him at I-Hop. It looks like he has grown into his ears since the last time I saw him. Then, he was all ears and they stood straight up all the time. Now it appears they bend over. He a mix of different breeds, but kind of looks like chihuahua, daschund, and his face even looks like pit bull.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Painting Rants and Raves

Since everyone likes good news, I'll start with the raves.

I love, love, love Dura Poxy paint. Why, you ask? What's so different about it? This paint is a water-based acrylic enamel that can be painted directly over oil-based enamel with no prep, and it dries hard so it doesn't peel off when it is bumped or scratched. And if you hate painting with oil-based enamel as much as I do, that is really cool. When this house was built, it had oil-based enamel on the trim, so when we painted the house the first time, we had to use oil-based enamel also. Either that or sand and prime every square inch of the enamel. Yuck. Then, as oil-based enamel does, it began yellowing. When we did our first room makeover, Hubby brought this home and we painted several rooms with it. It does take several weeks to harden, and in those few weeks, it will scratch off. But today, I had to get some drywall mud and paint drips off baseboard that had been painted with this paint about six years ago, and I used a metal scraper. The mud and drips came off without marring the paint. How's that for a hard finish? Now in case you are wondering, neither Hubby or I receive a dime from Kelly Moore Paints. I just like this paint.



Next, I love this Safetec Step Ladder Jack. When Hubby brought it home one day I just thought it was another of his gadget impulse purchases, but it really comes in handy. It adjusts to different heights, has steps so it can be used as a short scaffold, and is wide enough to stand on or use as a workbench. It's lightweight and folds flat to store.



Now for the bad news. I had to prime some baseboard before I could paint it, and reached for a can of primer I thought was water-based. It wasn't, as I discovered with I stuck my paint brush into the water to clean it up. I had to clean it because it's my favorite paintbrush, and the only thinner I could find was epoxy thinner. It cleaned it all right. It took off the primer, several old latex blobs that had been on the edge for years, the skin off my fingers.... Well, it didn't take off the skin, but I sure knew every paper cut and bit of cracked skin on my hands. Yowza that burned. But the paintbrush is better than ever.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Incredibly Easy Meals

If you are like me, the last thing you want to do when involved in a project is to stop and cook dinner. You don't want to take the time or money to eat out. So what to do? One dish dinners! Here are four of our favorites that require little or no prep time.

BBQ Sausage and Oven Baked Potatoes

Ingredients:
1 package sausage for every 2 people, cut into 1/4ths unless frozen (we like Eckrich Beef Smoked Sausage)
1/3 cup (more or less) per package of sausage BBQ sauce, bottled or homemade
1 potato for every person (I peel mine)
Seasoning salt
Butter

Wash potatoes and cut into small pieces. Place in baking pan that can be covered, sprinkle seasoning salt, and dot with butter (to taste). Put them in 350° while you prepare sausage because they take about 15 minutes longer. When done, they taste like the inside of a baked potato with a little crunch around the edges.

Combine sausage and BBQ sauce in baking pan that can be covered. Cook covered at 350° and cook about 45 minutes. If frozen, put them in the oven and cook on 300 for about 30 minutes before putting in potatoes and then turn up temperature.

*****

Swiss Steak

Ingredients:
4 Tenderized round steak cut into approx. 4x4" pieces. (You can even put them in frozen)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 pound fresh green beans, washed and end cut off
Salt & pepper

Double everything if needed.

Directions:
Put steak on bottom Dutch oven or large covered casserole pan. (I use a Corning casserole dish with lid).
Scatter beans on top.
Spread stewed tomatoes on top of everything.
Salt & pepper to taste.
Cover and bake at 350° about 45 minutes. If the meat was frozen, it will take a little longer.

Note: If you want to use canned green beans, put them in for the last 15 minutes.

*****

Chicken and Rice Casserole

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts (or the equivalent of your favorite chicken part)
8 carrots, washed with ends cut off
1½ cups white rice
1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
Water (see instructions for how much)
Salt & pepper.

Directions:
Put rice in bottom of Dutch oven or casserole pan.
Put soup in large measuring cup and add enough water to reach the 3½ cup mark, mix and pour over rice. Stir.
Place chicken & carrots on top of rice. Cut the carrots if necessary to make them fit.
Salt & pepper to taste.
Cover and bake at 350° for an hour or when rice is fluffy.

*****

Baked Pork Chops

Ingredients:
4 pork chops (Even frozen pork chops)
1-2 cans chicken noodle soup
1/2 can water

Directions:
Arrange pork chops in bottom of Dutch oven or covered casserole.
Pour soup over chops and add 1/2 can water.
Cover and bake at 350° for about an hour. (Varies according to thickness of chops.)

I've never added a vegetable to this but think new potatoes would be good - extra liquid would have to be added.

*****

One Dish Dinner

Ingredients:
1 pound hamburger meat
1 onion, sliced
4 medium potatoes, sliced into rounds
1 10 oz can tomato juice
Salt & pepper

Directions:
Layer potatoes in bottom of Dutch oven.
Layer onions on top of potatoes.
Crumble hamburger meat on top of everything.
Pour tomato juice evenly over all.
Salt & pepper to taste.
Cover and bake at 350° for an hour.

*****

Chicken Tacos

3 lbs cut up chicken or chicken breasts
1 package taco mix (or see recipe below)
1 cup water
1 package tortillas
1 package shredded lettuce or 1 head lettuce
2 or 3 tomatoes
1 package shredded cheese (we prefer Colby Jack)


Combine ingredients in Dutch oven or crock pot and cook on low until done. Shred chicken with fork and make tacos.

Taco seasoning:
1 T dried minced onion
1 t dried minced garlic
1 t garlic
1 t cumin
1 t paprika
1 t chili powder
1 t black pepper

*****

Loaded Baked Poatoes

3 lbs chicken cut up or just breasts
1 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 cup water
baking potato per person
Butter
Sour Cream
Shredded cheese

Put chicken, BBQ sauce, and water in Dutch oven or crock pot. Cook on low until tender. Meanwhile, bake potatoes in oven, or in microwave when chicken is done. Shred chicken and serve on top of baked potatoes with toppings of your choice.

*****


Enjoy!

If you have good and easy recipes, let me know. I'm still painting!

Until next time, may you have blessings and good dinners,
Marti

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Things to Do While Paint Dries

Third day and third and last paint color. I must gravitate toward yellows as this tan seems to be exactly the same buttery color I have in the living room. It's not what I wanted but I can live with it. For now. Since it was rainy today, the paint wasn't drying very fast, so I made a trip to town. Even though I only went for grocery items, I came home with some bargains.

These are from the thrift store. I'm not sure what they were before getting to the store because they are all exactly the same shape, color, and have a hole in the stem. As I was reaching toward them, I saw another woman out of the corner of my eye. She had been coming toward me, but when I started picking these up, she moved away. She had been systematically scarfing up all the new pretties in the store, so I was happy to have these. I wish they weren't all the same color. Might have to see what I can do about that. They weren't super cheap, but at a $1.00 each, I didn't feel they were overpriced.



I thought these wicker magazine storage bins would fit in my laundry cabinet, but they are too tall. Not sure how I'll use them, but I still like them. These were $1.50 each and I thought that was a real bargain.



These might be my biggest bargain. They were in the clearance aisle at Wally World, marked down to $1.00 apiece, but they rang up at $0.25 each! They are for indicating who sits at the table at a wedding, but I see them on my fridge.



Until next time, may you have blessings and happy treasure hunting,
Marti

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Decorating and Husbands

In the past few days I have painted my bedroom two different shades of neutral and didn't like either color. I'm actually not a fan of taupe and I can't seem to find a beige with a light and airy feeling that is still dark enough to contrast with white trim. I consulted with Hubby before picking the first color to make sure it wouldn't be too light. It was, and instead of looking beige, it looked like a dirty white. The second had too much pink in it, and was exactly that color of taupe I have disliked since childhood. Hubby doesn't comment, as he thinks there is nothing wrong with white walls. This from a man who has spent the last thirty years in the paint business..

In fact, Hubby could care less about most of the arranging, color choices, and accessorizing that goes on around here. Most of my friends say their husbands are the same. As long as they have a comfortable chair, football on tv, and food on the table, they are happy. I have wondered over this in the past, but Hubby finally gave me the key to his thought process when he described the perfect cabin for his hunting lease. He could live in this for a week just as happily as in our house, maybe even happier since he would have no chores.



See what I'm up against?

Until next time, may you have blessings and a happy home,
Marti

Monday, September 21, 2009

Not Spam

Now I see that someone has reported my blog as spam. Until this is straightened out, I'll be taking a blog break.

Until next time, may you have blessings and joy,
Marti

Update: It's good to be back but the brief shut out was a good thing, and a God thing as well. I needed to be shown that I wasn't doing a few things right and need to put my priorities in order, so I'll be spending less time online in the future.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What's In, What's Out, What's Hot, and What's Not

After lunch today, I logged into my email and saw three comments for my blog. I’m always pleased to get comments, since I seem to have a lot of visitors but few comments. But when I read the comments, I’ll admit I was a little piqued, and I deleted the email notices. Then I started prepping the bedroom so Hubby could paint the ceiling and I thought about those comments and why they touched a sore spot with me. So I decided to make a few comments myself.

So if you will bear with me, I’d like to say a few things about decorating and style.

Even though I’m not a decorator, I have had an interest in it since I was young, and have taken a few courses – not enough to learn a lot, just enough to make me dangerous, as the saying goes. It is my opinion that we are free to choose from a huge spectrum of colors and a multitude of furniture and design styles, not just from the dozen or so of each that are popular in any given year. What makes a color or style popular for only a few years? Boredom? Money? And who decides what is popular? Public opinion, or a small group with a large audience?

I used to visit a website where individuals could ask a question of a group of unnamed designers, and submit a picture of their problem room. I quit reading it after awhile because of the contradictory answers. What was said to be 'dated' in one room was said to be 'eclectic' or 'fresh' in the next one. I’ve seen the same in magazines, on decorating shows, and on discussion boards and I have come to the conclusion that it’s all ok. Really, it is. You have my permission to decorate with the colors you like and the styles you like whether they are in a magazine or not. Now, isn’t that liberating?

Wait. Don’t leave, I’m not done.

Anonymous said my bedroom furniture is dated and that I should get rid of it, and Devine Design by Mel said almost the same thing. Why? I like it. It’s well-made with solid wood, unlike most new furniture I’ve seen lately which seems to be made of MDF and resin. Then, there is that word “dated.” I’ve truly come to despise that word. Yes, it’s true, my furniture is not new. In fact, it was built around 1975, which was a very good year, for me at least. Of all the furniture we bought when we married, these were the only quality pieces, and they have stood the test of time. A few nicks here and there, but still solid even after moving from house to house fourteen times. If either of them had read any of my blog, they would know that I don’t get rid of perfectly good furniture. I don't think of my furniture as "dated" but as "future retro".

Are there any styles that are truly new and innovative today? A few hot items come to mind. The ghost chair is similar to acrylic chairs in 1960’s, but of course a lot more expensive. Modern furniture looks like stuff made in the 1950’s. Wide wood blinds look suspiciously like Venetian blinds. Shag carpet is so 1970’s. Oh wait, it’s back in, along with chaise lounges, bun feet, and curtains hung high over the window, and walls painted beige. Design is ever changing and ever revolving.

Mel didn’t like my kitchen either, and basically said I should have gutted it and started over. She also said I chose dated (there’s that word again) colors for the backsplash and counter. If she had read instead of just looking at pictures, she would see that it was done fourteen years ago when those colors were popular, or at least popular enough to find those materials. I have considered refinishing the cabinets in a slightly darker color, but they are solid, custom made cabinets and I don’t see any reason to throw them away. Don’t like the gray? I find it pleasant and soothing, and it makes me happy when I am in there. Isn’t that what design is all about?

A lot of what I like and don’t like comes from my childhood and past experiences. I grew up in the late 1950’s through the early 1970’s. My family, while not poor, struggled financially more than other families I knew. Our kitchen table and chairs were light Danish, living room furniture was brown Early American, and my bedroom furniture was a hodge podge of mismatched pieces. There was a modern upholstered chair in the living room that trickled sawdust every time someone sat on it, and there was a big, gold, sunburst clock above the floor furnace. The walls were a light taupe with green drapes hung just a few inches beneath the ceiling. All these things, with the exception of Early American maple, are popular again today, but I doubt I'll ever put any of it in my home. It looks old and smacks of hard times to me, because of that time in my life. Plastic furniture, modular furniture, and bright colors also seem old, but fun too, because I had that when I left home and created my own space for the first time. But it isn’t something I want now because it seems to belong to the young, or the age I was then, when I loved it.

Because of the furniture I grew up with, mismatched furniture gives me the feeling of disorganization and hardship. I think matching everything in a room would be monotonous, but I like having a core of matching pieces with minor accents scattered about. It gives me a feeling of harmony and respite. That’s not to say I hate eclectic rooms, or even modern. I like seeing them, I just couldn’t live with them. My home is a reflection of me, and my style is simple, where form follows function, and the function of my home is comfortable living.

I’ll step off my soapbox now. Thanks for listening. Don’t be a lemming; decorate with the colors and styles that make you happy.

Until next time, may you have blessings and joy in your home,
Marti

Friday, September 18, 2009

Master Bedroom

As most mothers know, we usually do things for our children before we do for ourselves, whether it is activities, clothes, or even decorating. Such was the case with me and our master bedroom. Other than paint, not much has been done to it since we moved in. Oh, we had changed out the closet rods to make the tiny three by five foot space work a little harder, but that was done out of necessity, and did nothing for the room's appearance.

That all changes, starting today. Here is a sneak preview of the before pictures.

(I'm updating this because I found some older pictures. These are about 2004, sans bedspread and tablecloths.)

From the door looking in and around the room.





I painted the window wall and then decided I didn't like the paint. The white squares are pieces of flannel tacked up as a design board for a quilt I was making.





Since our bedroom was the biggest, it was also the room to put anything that wouldn't fit somewhere else. "Oh, put it in mom's room, that's where all the junk is" became the answer to all questions that began "Where do I put...?"

See?


When most people move from a large house to a smaller house, they get rid of stuff so there is a place for everything in their new house. Nope, not us. We kept it so we could walk around it and move it from one room to another in the hopeless quest of the 'clean house'. And when we knew company was coming? Oh my, you should see the piles of junk move from the public areas back to the bedrooms.

Fourteen years here and Hubby has finally decided it's time to get rid of stuff.

This is today - pre-makeover:

When I painted the walls this chocolate brown, I pictured a quilt of forest green and chocolate brown. However, after painting it I never really liked the color. Other quilts came first and I never warmed to the color, in fact, I have grown to really dislike it. At least, I dislike having so much of it. It makes the room seem smaller and darker, which was already dark enough with just one window.

Here is another pic from a different angle, with me crammed into the closet.


And with the bedroom door open.



From the window at the opposite end.



A closeup of the bottom of that wall.


The house originally had intake vents at the floor in the hall and the master bedroom. When we replace the heating system a few years ago, they moved the intake to the hall ceiling and we closed up the old vents. We hired someone to repair the new sheetrock areas and the hairline cracks over the doors and windows, but he didn't do a great job. Instead of pulling out the old tape and repairing with mesh tape, he just put more mud over it, and then textured over that. Now, there is a bulge AND a crack over a couple of the doors. Redoing that is my job for tonight. Wish me luck.

I was going to spring it on Hubby when he came home, but I had to call and ask him to bring home supplies for me.

Until next time, may you have blessings and smooth walls,
Marti

p.s. Hubby didn't bring home anything but paint for the ceilings. He wants to fill the crack with Elastomeric before repainting due to the house being on ever changing clay soil. I can't say I agree, but he is the pro, so we'll go with it.

I thought I might replace the missing baseboard instead. Since it's 1983, an exact match isn't available anymore, so patching with new stuff won't work. I was going to take it off the kitchen wall - which is going to be moved anyway, but that wall is lined with boxes. It's always something. So I'll spend the evening moving clutter. What else is new?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Pond Today



Tonight I am doing a presentation on aquatic plants. I've been gathering up materials, and thought I'd take some pictures of some of my plants too. Over the past four days we have had over twelve inches of rain. My previously crispy and dormant yard is now green and overgrown, but the pond looks even worse; it is littered with brown leaves and lily pads. The picture above is the best of a bad scene.

So I'm back to gathering drawings and photos from books and websites. Nothing like procrastination, right?

Until next time, may you have blessings and clear water,
Marti

Candida Diet is Paying Off

I am almost giddy. I've been on the candida diet for two weeks and was beginning to get discouraged because I haven't seen anything dramatic. I have seen some gradual improvement, but couldn't say it was from the diet. But last night when I went to bed, I noticed something amazing: my legs hadn't been itching! For those who don't know about candida, among it's host of problems is an intense itching. Mine was on my lower legs. For the last few years, it has been so bad that I spend a few minutes every night just raking my fingernails up and down my shins to relieve the itch. I've been to multiple doctors who diagnosed it as dry skin, and it was red and dry. But no amount of lotion eased the redness or the itching. The redness was so embarrassing that I haven't worn shorts in years either.

When I got up this morning and could see my legs in the light, there was no redness and still no itching. To say I am overjoyed is an understatement. There is a nagging fear that it is just a fluke from our recent wet weather, but I am going with the hope that it is from the diet.

The other slight improvements I have had are a return of energy and the drugged, foggy head feeling is much better. I am most encouraged!

Until next time, may you have blessings and perseverance,
Marti

p.s. I spoke too soon. Since I didn't have time to cook dinner Tuesday, Hubby brought home pizza - cheese for me. I ate a few pieces before leaving for the meeting and a couple of pieces when I got home. The next day I was sick nearly all day, with the brain fog descending, and my legs were itching again. What's in pizza? Um, sugar, yeast, refined white flour that converts to sugar quickly, cheese (molds). No wonder.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Checking in on Goals

These were my goals (not resolutions) at the beginning of the year, with progress noted.

Health Goals
Diet
Eliminate (Hubby says cut down on) desserts - DONE (more than once)
Eliminate sodas - DONE (more than once)
Eliminate fried foods - better
Add more vegetables - better
Add more fruits - better
Prepare rounded meals
Eat lighter dinner - failing miserably
Exercise - doing good until I started feeling so bad in June
Walk daily 30 minutes - same as above
Bicycle daily 30 minutes
Exercises for the back daily
Look into tennis or golf - started but had to quit after injury

Financial Goals
Put 15% of Hubby's salary toward mortgage payoff - DONE
Hold off house addition until mortgage paid and economy is stable
Bump emergency fund to $20K - DONE
Add identity theft insurance
No eating out (Hubby says Less eating out) - failing miserbly
Cook from scratch - hahahahaha
Get part time job to speed mortgage payoff - health problems prevent that
Keep better budget accounting

The good news is that we have paid off the mortgage and I have started the candida diet. I still don't feel well, but in ways I can tell I am better. Two more hurdles to get a clean bill of health.

Until next time, may you have blessings and good health,
Marti

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ah Yes, Life in the Country

And neighbor's dogs barking at 3a.m.

So I'm lying there wondering when they will ever stop barking, tossing, turning, and finally sat up to see Hubby's digital clock. It was 3:30a.m. and when I sat up, he let me know he was awake too. Then we both tossed and turned and wondered aloud when they were ever going to stop barking. I asked Hubby if he wanted me to turn on the radio or CD to have something drown out the noise, and he said he was going to go see what they were barking at.

I turned on the radio, and pretty soon I heard him knocking on the back door - he had locked himself out. By the time I found my glasses and slippers and walked to the back door, he was pounding on the door. I opened the door and there he stood, wearing nothing but his tighty whities and a t-shirt. I resisted the urge to ask him what pocket his keys were in.

I went back to bed and he got dressed, to start working I assumed. But no, he had seen what they were barking at. It was a possum, perched on the fence between the barking dog neighbor and another neighbor. These dogs jump on the fence all the time, so we couldn't figure out why they were just barking while it sat there and watched them. But Hubby got his flashlight and a big stick and started beating the fence until the possum got off and wandered into the other neighbor's yard. Beating the fence really stirred up the barking dogs but it ended soon after Hubby came back in, probably because all the racket finally woke up the neighbors.

Why is it that people with barking dogs can never hear their own dogs barking in the middle of the night?

Until next time, may you have blessings and peaceful sleep,
Marti