Category Archives: home

Short term plans – school and glasses

Wednesday is my first day of classes.  As you may recall, I’m going back to school to get certified to teach high school business.  I have class just one day a week, for like 5.5 hours.  It should be fun, and interesting, and ok, maybe a little scary to be going back to school after a decade. 

My in-laws are going on vacation for a month soon.  For the last, oh, three years, my mother in-law has bitched and complained that she hates her drinking glasses.  However, because she is frugal and resistant to change and maybe just a little bit crazy, she refuses to get rid of the glasses she hates because “there’s nothing WRONG with them.”  I bought them a set of nice glasses at Macy’s the Christmas before last, and while they have yet to make an appearance, they also weren’t returned, as I discovered the box at the back of their hall closet recently.  I assume this means they like the glasses, but since the ones they hate are still “fine” they simply haven’t put them into commission yet.  Well.  I have a plan.  While they are on vacation I am going to kidnap all the glasses they hate, and populate their drinking glass cabinet with the new glasses from Macy’s.  Maybe I’ll even leave a note from the old glasses, saying they’ve gone on to better things and they will miss their old home.

In other news, my garden is a pretty decent success this year, which for me is saying a LOT.  I had built raised beds in the spring, and almost everything in them is doing fairly well.  I had a little patch of corn that all came down with a fungus called “corn smut” which sounds way more fun than it really is.  All my corn kernels got crazy huge and popcorn-looking, but greyish black.  The intertubes tell me this fungus is a delicacy in Mexico, where they cook it into quesadillas, but like many so-called “delicacies” I will leave it to the natives.  My corn smut got cut down and dumped into our back woods for the groundhogs to feast upon.  Besides the corn failure, however, the garden has been productive.  I’ve made a couple batches of salsa and pasta sauce from my tomatoes, my peppers are actually giving me peppers, my herbs are mostly thriving, and I even have a few watermelon and butternut squash that have set and are getting visibly bigger on a daily basis. 

I have one bed dedicated to scallions, carrots, and radishes, and those are…. OK.  The carrots aren’t getting much bigger than babies, but they are sweet and yummy if not prolific.  The scallions are fine, but the radishes haven’t done much except grow lots of leaves.   A few gave me a decent bulb, but whatever.  I don’t particularly like radishes, I only grow them because they are fun and quick.  Oh, I added a couple rows of broccoli in place of some radishes but that’s just at the seedling stage right now.

And still pregnant.  🙂  I’m in my 20th week, which means I’m halfway through the pregnancy right now.

Man, it’s hot. Get on it, central air!

It’s hot here.  Crazy hot.  Like 101-degrees hot, not even looking at the “heat index” that makes it feel close to 110.  Ick.

I’m sweating like a pig, which is an interesting turn of phrase considering pigs don’t sweat very much.  But alas, I am.  Partly because I come from a long line of heavy perspirators, and partly due to my own internal thermostat being cranked up because I am 12 weeks pregnant.  (Yay!)  So, I am way supah sexayy right now, to be sure.

Our central air was just not doing its job very well.  Our attic fan is going full-bore, but when it’s only got 100-degree air to pull in, there’s only so much it can do to help!  I went around and made sure blinds and curtains were closed as much as possible, especially because our windows are original to the house and thus lack any semblance of energy efficiency.  Then I figured, maybe there’s stuff I’m not thinking of, and took to the inter-tubes to get any other little tidbits of air conditioning efficiency wisdom.  Came across a couple that are helping, I think:

1) Changing the air filter.  This is a bit DUH, right?  But once I read it, I realized we hadn’t changed the filter in, oh, maybe as long as we lived here?  There were a few spares in the garage, so I retrieved one and opened the return duct grate and…. ick.  So it is changed, and I vacuumed out the whole inside of the duct that I could see, and the grate as well. 

2) Run your dehumidifier.  This doesn’t necessarily help the air conditioner very much, but it helps make it feel cooler even though it’s not really cooler.  We have one, though its bucket had become full about a week ago and I neglected to empty it.  So I did that, and it is running, and hopefully it will also make a difference.

But yes, so, I finally got knocked up.  🙂   I’m due January 23, and we have already had an ultrasound a couple weeks ago and a nice strong, fast, 160 beats-per-minute heartbeat was observed, and the baby was measuring perfectly for dates.  Ultrasounds always make me nervous because my very first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, and it was discovered I was going to lose the baby on an ultrasound at 10 weeks.  I’ve had so many more ultrasounds go well since then, but that one that sucked really really bad gets me a little freaked out for each one.

We’ve basically found out gender for each of our first two kids, so for this one we’re going to keep it a total surprise.  Not my choice, but Frank wanted a surprise for every kid and I never let him get his way. 

OK, I’m going to go back to laying around and sweating, and occasionally checking the thermostat to see if the temperature has dipped at all.  Stay cool!

Nearly put together

As a bit of background, I have to tell you about something fairly mundane… a while back, my dad got married, as you may remember.  My new stepmom had recently bought a new washer/dryer set, and when she moved from her house into my dad’s house, she brought the washer & dryer with them.  They thus had an extra washer and dryer.  Our new house came with a washer and dryer, but the washer was a low-end model and the dryer was older than dirt.  So, a couple months ago when we visited my dad in Buffalo, we brought Frank’s uncle’s trailer and brought my dad’s washer and dryer back with us.  We didn’t install them right away because we had a bunch of other house stuff going on and there was no urgent need.

Then our older-than-dirt dryer stopped drying, and we felt it fortuitous we had a replacement in the garage.  And since we were taking the dryer out, we figured we’d put the newer washer in, too.  And since we were moving the old appliances out, we figured we’d paint the room and put down new vinyl tile to cover the funky old vinyl tile that was in there.

We moved the washer and dryer out, and discovered that the drywall behind the washer and dryer was all busted up and moldy and rotting out, and the insulation behind it was moldy.  So, the painting/flooring/move in new appliances project became a drywall/insulation/painting/flooring/move in new appliances project.

Then we decided since we were doing everything else anyway, we might as well go ahead and fix the completely funky plumbing that existed in there.  (Our laundry room is also our utility room, and the boiler and hot water heater also reside there.)  For example, because of the way the plumbing was, with the expansion tank on the pipe where the water comes out of the water heater instead of on the line where the water goes in, turning on cold water in our house would create a pressure disparity in the cold water pipe and hot water would siphon back from the hot water tank into the cold water pipes and after 10 seconds of cold water, we’d get a  minute of hot water out of the cold water tap.  So, so, so annoying.  And on top of all that, the utility sink in there was ridiculously wobbly and just stained and beat up, so we decided we’d put a new one in.

So, the drywall/insulation/painting/flooring/move in new appliances project became a plumbing/drywall/insulation/painting/flooring/move in new appliances project.

Somewhere in there, Frank and his dad decided to replace the window in the room, too.  Luckily they’ve further decided that the window can wait until the rest of the room is done.

We have therefore spent the last two weeks in various states of upheaval.  We had no water in the house at all for 24 hours while all the plumbing got worked on.  Then, the hot water heater that got moved out of the room stayed out of the room until the drywall and painting and flooring all got done, so we had no hot water for at least a week (but luckily we’ve been able to shower at my in-laws’ next door). 

But I helped my father-in-law with the drywall and insulation (and proudly did all the insulation myself).  I did most of the painting.  Frank and I worked together on the new floor.  The hot water tank got reinstalled.  The utility sink is assembled and ready to be installed.  After all that work and countless necessary trips to Home Depot to get all the random stuff we needed along the way, the laundry room was finally ready for a washer and dryer.

And then, Frank and his dad went to put in the washer and dryer… and realized that the dryer is an electric dryer.  Which was not the type of dryer it was replacing.  I had assumed my dad had a gas dryer, because there’s a gas line right behind his washer and dryer.  But, no.  I’m not quite sure why my husband didn’t realize my dad’s dryer was electric, since he helped my dad load it into the trailer.  You’d think him noticing the wonky plug and lack of a gas pipe would lead to some brilliant conclusion.  I seems I had said it was a gas dryer, and he holds me in high enough esteem that even with evidence to the contrary, he just took my word for it.  Sweet man, but that didn’t help us on Sunday when we couldn’t put the dryer in because we don’t have one of those 240-volt plugs, or the spare amperage, to install an electric dryer.

Which led, somewhat happily I must admit, to the majority of Sunday picking out the new front-load washer and dryer we wanted, and the first part of Monday actually buying them.  It’s a model that was JUST discontinued by the manufacturer…. but only in white.  They still sell a spiffy blue color of the exact same model, and we’d originally picked out those blue ones… but finding the white ones on sale for like $500 less for the set sort of made the need for spiffy blue seem not so important.   We already bought the pedestals, and the washer and dryer will be delivered and installed tomorrow.

I.  cannot.  wait.  another.  minute.

A day in the life

I don’t know what the weather’s like where you are, but here it’s lovely.

Much has been accomplished. My garden got the bejeezus weeded out of it, and I planted some more radish & carrot & spinach seeds, and re-routed some strawberry runners. Everything got a good watering.  I ate my first salad from it.

Frank tried to fix our attic fan, but discovered that instead of a bum thermostat as we originally suspected, the motor is blown. The standard home improvement stores did not carry a replacement. Bah.

I had my neighbor friend over for margaritas on my deck, which thanks to a bunch of potting and a few purchased accessories feels very homey now.

Jake took a three hour nap.

Lane’s been playing at the neighbor’s for the past two or three hours.

I’m still buzzed from the margaritas.

Life is good.

Another big thing

One other thing I neglected to catch y’all up on yesterday was my garden.  I built a garden!!  Our new house is on about 2/3 of an acre, and I thought it would be shameful if I let our first full summer pass without growing some of our own food.  I’ve done a bit of veggie gardening in the past… my grandpa’s always had a garden, so when I was younger and would hang out there when my parents were at work, I would help him out.  Then in our old house, which came with a built garden, I successfully grew a lot of tomatoes and a few peppers and cucumbers despite working full-time.  After that I ended up pregnant with Jacob and just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm for it.

Well, now, I have two small children, and we’re still not completely unpacked, and there’s still about a hundred small projects around the house, so I decided to build a vegetable garden.  And, never one to bite off just a bit at a time, I went a little nuts — I dug out what amounts to about 120 square feet of planting area – about the size of  a small bedroom.  Granted in the gardening world this isn’t a huge garden, and I imagine I’ll probably make it a little bigger next summer, but it’s still pretty big.  It’s four separate plots, so that I can plant fairly intensively and do all my gardening without treading on the gardens themselves, which they say is good for the roots of the plants you’re growing.  I dug all the plots myself, weeding and de-rocking everything, with the exception of a couple BIG rocks (we do live in “Rockland” county after all — I learned really quickly how the county got its name) which my brother and/or next door neighbor (who was gifted with all the big rocks I pulled out to add to his rock wall along one side of his property) helped with a bit.

So now it’s all dug, and kind of fenced in – I didn’t do a permanent fence because I want to get through a year or two and see if I want to upsize – or downsize.  Thus right now my perimeter fence to keep the deer out is just tall plastic netting.  And, it’s pretty much all planted.  I have planted tomatoes (four types), peppers (four types), watermelon, carrots, scallions, broccoli, spinach, a variety of herbs, corn, lettuce, pumpkins, sugar snap peas, and sunflowers.  I have also purchased some strawberry plants to fill in one last part that I didn’t plant yet, and those will be going in today.  Perhaps it’s a bit overzealous but the kids are totally digging it and I’m having fun.  If we have a day that’s actually sort of sunny and nice and without an imminent threat of getting my camera wet I will take a few pictures.

Uncle Mark

One of the new things around here, and I’m very unsure if I mentioned it, but my brother’s living with us now. So far, it’s going great. He’s working at a bank branch about 15 minutes away from here, in a position that’s sort of between a teller and a platform banker, so he’s earning his keep.

He’s 25, and so in that goofy not-quite-a-kid, not-quite-an-adult phase. (Heck, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not sure *I’m* out of that phase yet. If I’m lucky, I’ll never really leave that phase.) He has so much fun with the kids, even though he has times where he’s not quite accustomed to the chaos and locks himself in his room. The kids practically worship him. Lane finds it physically impossible to leave him alone when he’s home and Jake walks around looking for him yelling “Mar! Mar? Mar!” So, so cute.

So, they do annoy him sometimes. But heck, sometimes they annoy me, too. But mostly they really dig hanging out together. He and the kids spent about 20 minutes before running laps around our house. Now, they are downstairs in our family room/playroom/catch-all room and he’s teaching the kids how to hit a whiffle ball with a plastic bat, and the giggles are incessant. I’m of course doing the responsible thing while the kids are occupied — blogging and Facebook.

It’s really been fun having him here. I’m glad I offered him the room, and I’m glad he took me up on it.

Tunguska in my backyard

OK, so maybe a comet didn’t hit my backyard.  More, it was a guy named Chris with a penchant for climbing trees with a chainsaw.

The arboreal carnage abounds.

But on the plus side, our front and back yards, once super-shady and overgrown and with more moss than grass for a lawn, now has light coming through!  As an added bonus, of the dozen trees (or maybe even more) that were felled, 8 or 9 of them were in varying stages of rotting.  Had they not come down now by Chris’s hand, they would have certainly come down sooner or later on their own.  And since all the trees were within striking distance of our house, that would not have been a good thing.

Frank and my father in-law helped the whole weekend, as Chris quoted us a price per day based on the amount of work that needed to be done vs. a price per tree.   Not only did this save us money, but because these dear men in my life labored hard all weekend, we got a LOT done for the money we spent.  The weekend was filled with the sounds of progress — chain saws, large pieces of tree slamming hard to the ground, hard enough to rumble the house a bit, and the steady groan of a huge chipper that many of the men in the neighborhood came over at various times to “help” but really they wanted to “play”.

Chris only started his own business a short time ago, so he doesn’t have the equipment to take away the large logs or rip out the stumps, so that’s work we’ll have to do.  We’re scouting around among family friends to see who has chain saws and if anyone has a log splitter.  I’m going to take pictures of some of the trees and advertise them on Craigslist to see if anyone wants to take them, whole, off our hands.  If you’re in the Rockland county area of New York state… want a part of a tree?