Cereal Saver

At the beginning of the year, I mentioned that I’ve been buying meat in bulk when it’s on sale and storing it in our deep freezer.  I generally try to keep it around $2.50 per pound.  This is often a challenge because I only buy lean, healthy meat, which rarely goes on sale, and I spend the first part of Sunday morning scouring the newly posted sale flyers of our local grocery stores for the latest and greatest deal.  Some weeks are jackpots ($.99/pound lean 93/7 ground turkey), and some weeks are flops.

In addition to meat, I check the other groceries on sale and match them to my coupons.  If there is a product I know I’m going to purchase, whether to replenish our dwindling supply or because it’s on special, and I don’t have a coupon, I’ll do a quick google search.  Those searches are usually a bust, but one out of five times, you find something worth printing.

A couple weeks ago, one of our local grocery stores had Cheerios (all varieties!) on sale for buy one, get one free.  Cereal is one of those items that I only buy on sale, refusing to spend more than my arbitrary $2.50 per box.  I’ve found that most stores rotate their cereal sales week to week, and anticipating this, I had hoarded away all my Cheerio coupons.   Before leaving the house, I did a quick Google search and printed off a few additional coupons.  Then I went to the store and stocked up.

cereal-bulk

All in all, I bought 12 boxes of cereal that day.  (I stopped at another grocery store on the way home to pick up Honey Bunches of Oats.  It was on my way and only $2.16 per box.)  I know this seems crazy, but the price of cereal is rising because the price of wheat is rising.   Now we’re set for a couple months. Given some people might not like cereal that much, but you can always mix other things, like eggs, into your breakfast lineup.  Thankfully, we’re cereal people.

Playing with Spray Paint

Categories: home | 5 Comments

I’ve mentioned that we bought this house with the intentions of slowly fixing it up.  Of course, two years ago we didn’t anticipate getting pregnant and bringing home a baby.  Needless to say, a lot of those big renovation dreams got pushed to the back burner.  Unfortunately, this didn’t stop me from daydreaming about the variety of projects that I’d like to undertake (or rather, have Chris undertake).  This was especially true as I spent hours and hours sitting on the couch nursing my sweet young baby while watching too much HGTV and staring at the wall.

I wasn’t staring with boredom;  I was staring with animosity.  You see, our fireplace is horrendous.  It has an excessively large hearth made up of white painted brick that spans the entire living room wall.  The fireplace has an unnecessary, frilly detail, and the fireplace screen is an ugly 80’s brass.  We loathe it.

The plan was to rip it out and redo it sometime this year, but then things got a little shitty.  With my recent resolution to save money, it’s just not practical to renovate until we’ve built up a savings and paid down debt. Poo. But then one day, I was watching HGTV, and they painted a fireplace screen with high heat spray paint.  Eureka! (Please note that I know and acknowledge that spray paint isn’t super earth friendly but sending your dated but functional fireplace screen to the landfill isn’t either.)

Last week, while wandering the aisles of my local home improvement store, I picked up a can of black high heat spray paint.  (They only had black, white, and BRIGHT silver.)  I had a new mission!  All I needed was for Chris to remove the fireplace screen and doors and paint.  Easy, right?

First, I taped up the glass.  You can see the fugliness of the brass.  (You can also see the reflection of Lucy’s rear end.  I think that’s fitting.)  Then I cleaned the visible surface area.  I did this while Chris watched an episode of Battlestar Galatica.  It looks like a good show, but I never got into it.

fireplace

On Saturday afternoon, Chris took the screen apart.  (If you’re a BSG fan, you know that it airs on Friday night.)  I thought that it would be pretty easy to remove, just loosen a couple screws.  Boy! Was I wrong! It took Chris several hours to get it apart.

You know what was easy to do?  Spray painting!  It was a bit windy, but the stuff dries fast.  Thankfully nothing blew into the wet paint.

fireplace

The can said that it would take 2 hours to dry, but we decided to wait overnight.  This was mainly for Chris’s sanity.  I didn’t think his soul could handle disassembling and reassembling on the same day.  Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but he said he wanted to wait and I was in no position to argue.

So four hours and an endless supply of curse words later, the pretty new doors were in place and looking like a million bucks!

fireplace

Here’s the vertical picture.  What’s all that crap on the top?  Oh, that’s the stuff that use to decorate my house until the baby became mobile and tried to stick it in her mouth.  Now it just sits up there collecting dust.  Maybe I stop watching renovation shows and start watching decorating shows.

fireplace

Crappy Day or Money Down the Drain, you pick.

Categories: home | 4 Comments

digger

Two years ago when we were house hunting, I wanted an older house. I grew up in a subdivision where all the houses had roughly same exterior and floorplan, and I knew I wanted a home with a little more personality and character. The first time I saw pictures of our 1950’s home, I knew it was the one. With a long front porch and two mature maple trees in the front yard, it has a cozy, friendly look to it. We put an offer on it just a few hours after touring it the first time.

Fast forward two years and my infatuation with my adorable fixer-upper craftsman has been dampened by the responsibilities of home ownership. Maintaining any home is hard work, but maintaining a home with personality and character is even harder work. After all, personality and character is earned through age, and our blessed place is starting to wrinkle…literally. She’s starting to crack and sag and clog. Yes, clog. Remember those beautiful, mature trees? Apparently their charm only masks what’s going on below the surface. Their roots system is wreaking havoc on our sewer line, and it all started with a gurgle.

Last summer, just as the bathroom renovations were coming to an end, I noticed that the nursery bathroom would bubble while I did laundry. At first I figured it was just a side effect of the renovations, but when other pipes started slowly draining, I knew it was something else. At first we tried several quick fixes - vinegar, plunging, draino - but nothing worked. It only took a few days for things to completely stop flowing, and we had to call a plumber to snake our main sewer line.

Clearing our pipe wasn’t an easy job. We spent several hours trying to locate our clean-out, before we finally determined that there wasn’t one. The plumbing service eventually removed one of our toilets, used a camera to locate the line, and used a gigantic auger to clear our pipe. Afterward, they informed us that we needed to replace the entire line and until we did it would just happen again. And eight months later, just outside our 6 month warranty, it did. Not prepared to pay for a multi-thousand dollar repair, we paid to have it snaked again and vowed to replace the line at the beginning of 2009.

sewer-line

When January rolled around, I convinced Chris that we should wait until it was absolutely necessary; I was hoping that we could buy some time to save up the cash. Like clockwork, the toilet started gurgling the day we filed our tax return, and within a week, the drains started slowing down. We scheduled our line replacement for the next week.

Things got a little harder over the next seven days. Desperate for some clean clothes, I ran a small load of laundry. That forced grit (from my face wash, not raw sewage) to gurgle up the shower drain. We also had to stop using the dish washer. Then the toilets wouldn’t flush and I started making runs to the nearby Mapco to go number 2. With piles of laundry and dishes all around me, I felt the walls caving in on me.

Finally, today, the line was replaced. It took out part of our driveway and some of our bushes. (We did, by the way, save the asshole tree that did this to us.) It was pretty painful to write “thousand” on a check, but it’s a lot cheaper than paying for sodas and coffee at the gas station every time I needed to poop. (I couldn’t, in good conscience, not buy anything after pooping in their potty.) To celebrate, I ran the dishwasher, started a load of laundry, and flushed a toilet.

asshole-tree

Waging War

Categories: home | 4 Comments

In the past few weeks, Lucy had deposited an insane amount of dog hair around the house.  I’m not sure if I was oblivious to her shedding before I had a small creature rolling around on the floor or if she’s feeling super stressed from the baby crying and shedding more.  (She usually whines out of concern if Cecilia is crying.)  Regardless of the reason, there is dog hair everywhere. EVERYWHERE.  And it’s slowly driving me insane.

doghair

I decided this past weekend that it was time to strip the house of all the excess hair.  Now I consider myself a pretty good housekeeper.  My house isn’t spotless, but it usually gets dusted and vacuumed once a week.  It’s very apparent, however, that this isn’t cutting it.  I decided to start at the source and furminated Lucy.  What is furminating, you ask?  The furminator is this awesome tool.


It’s an awesome grooming brush.  Unfortunately, we’ve only used it a handful of times in the past few months.  Thankfully, Lucy doesn’t mind it.  The biggest struggle is combing the dog outside where she can easily be distracted by squirrels.

My next move is vacuuming every day.  This can be a bit challenging because Lucy attacks the vacuum like she attacks the hairdryer.  Here’s day one of vacuuming.  Mind you, it had been a couple days since I last vacuumed.

vacuum

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I’m also going to shake out and wash all the dog linens, replace air filters, and dust everything with a lint brush.  Hopefully that will help me regain my sanity.

Doesn’t this make you want to come and have dinner at my house?

Cat Clash Fever

Categories: home , Picklings | No Comments

Our neighborhood has a lot of cats.  They seem like they have a home, despite wandering around collarless.  Last summer, these semi-stray felines decided to use my flowerbeds and vegetable garden as their personal litter box.  As you can imagine, finding a stinky pile of cat poop next to your meticulously cultivated tomato plant is infuriating.  So we went to war.  They had their cunning, sinister ways.  I had my superior human intelligence. And my secret weapon, Lucy, who was more than willing to chase these interlopers back to their own yards.  Our campaign didn’t take long before we had successful battled back and regained our territory.  Our reign continues to this day.

However, yesterday, Chris noticed a poacher stalking the newly filled and hung bird feeder in the front yard.  A stocky black and white cat hunted down and killed one of the birds.  I actually found this report a little amusing.  Birds and cats have been enemies for many years, and it’s just survival of the fittest, right?  However, when I saw that same cat sitting in the street observing the birds again a mere two hours later, I was not pleased.  After all, I hung the feeder for my entertainment, not for their dinner.

With my special agent out from a mental breakdown, I knew it was up to me to take on the enemy.  With a loud BANG of the screen door, I burst out of the house doing my best hissing impression, clapping and running towards the cat.  After it saw that I wasn’t backing down, she turn and ran towards the house across the street that belongs to a nonagenarian (and a prime old cat lady candidate).

I was feeling quite proud of myself as I turned towards the house.  That was, until I looked towards my neighbor’s yard and saw ten or so men standing in a circle staring at me.

Organization Tip

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Every month, I receive at least nine magazine subscriptions, which have been neglectfully tossed aside since Cecilia arrived.  While trying to catch up on some of my reading this week, I stumbled on a great organization tip - using a lazy susan in your cabinets.  (Unfortunately I’ve forgotten which magazine suggested this, and it would take me at least a week to find it.) I actually had a lazy susan sitting in my closet collecting dust.  I purchased it last year for someone for Christmas, but she ended  up buying one for herself before the holidays rolled around, which is the downside of buying Christmas gifts in September.


Oct 08 189

I decided to tackle the cabinet under my kitchen sink.  It still looks pretty messy, but now I won’t have to knock over a million things when I need the cider vinegar from the back.  Now if they only had tips on organizing millions of unread magazines…