Saving the Planet

My sweet sister-in-law, who’s rather awesome, has been working for the last few years to raise awareness about plastic bags and their impact on our environment. She’s attended local city council meetings encouraging the banning of plastic bags. I’m not sure if the towns have followed her advice, but she’s certainly made me more mindful of how much plastic I use.

Along with remembering to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store, I’ve also tried to lessen the use of plastic in the kitchen. First I bought Bees Wrap which is basically organic cotton fabric covered in bees wax. You simply get it warm in your hands and use it like you would plastic wrap. While you can’t use it on meat, it works well on most other things. It’s not as tight a seal as plastic, but I’ve been happy with it.

So happy that I was surprised when I noticed that my set of three wraps has dwindled down to one. Baby Girl and the MR have both assured me that they would never throw these out, so it appears to be a mystery. Browsing Pinterest, I did find a tutorial on how to make your own Beeswax Cotton Wraps. And while I’ve bought the beeswax, I haven’t quite got to the making part. Perhaps now that I’ve mentioned it to you, I’ll be more motivated.

And last month while we were wandering around Sweet Miss’ downtown, we browsed the shelves of her favorite housewares store, and I noticed something else I’d been wanting to try. I find these silicone bowl covers intriguing.

Designed to look like flowers, they take the place of plastic when covering bowls and pans. I bought the large size, but a smaller one might have been a better choice. We don’t have leftovers in such large quantities any more with just the two of us.

Then on Facebook—I know I’m addicted—I saw an ad for huggable silicone vegetable covers. On Amazon I found out they even have them for avocados. I’ve ordered a variety set of these. I don’t know how many times, I’m left with half an avocado and don’t know the best way to store it.

With just a little soap and water, I’m going through a lot less plastic wrap. Maybe I won’t save the world, but each little step counts.

How are you reducing your environmental footprint?

In other news, Baby Girl—our sweet breath of spring—celebrated the big 2-0 yesterday. Knock out those finals; we can’t wait to celebrate with you in just a few days.

 

When you were 2, I wanted you to wear a party dress. After lots of fighting, Dad stepped and let you wear old hand-be-downs—the big softy. You had some attitude. 

 

Sh! It’s a Secret

Back in October, I put together care packages for my sweet college girls. Along with treats and gifts from our recent trip, I included some thankfulness cards for them to fill out for our annual Thankfulness Tree.  They could bring them home and add them to our collection.

The MR has added some very nice cards in the past, but hanging thankfulness notes on a tree isn’t really his thing.  I was figuring the tree would be kind of sparse looking by the time Thanksgiving rolled around, and I’d need them for reinforcement.

So of course when we visited last week, I asked about the cards and how they were doing.  Well one said she’d filled out a few, but the other firmly stated that with work and school, she was too busy to be thankful.  Hmm, I didn’t want to argue about thankfulness, so I didn’t point out that a little bit of it can put the stresses of life into perspective.

And I certainly didn’t mention that I hadn’t even made my Thankfulness Tree or written any notes myself.  It’s been rainy and nasty, and I haven’t wandered the woods finding just the perfect bundle of sticks covered in moss to cluster in my vase. I’d sent them all the blank cards left from last year, so I wasn’t filling them out either.

So yesterday, with a little break in the weather, I meandered down to the bottom of the meadow.  After cutting a bundle of sticks, I remembered the bush next to the driveway that always seemed to have more shapely branches in the past.  It’s not my prettiest Thankfulness Tree, but it will serve its purpose well.

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I went back to Tater Tots and Jello for their free printable, and now I have some catching up to do.

So here’s my thankfulness list so far for November.

I’m thankful for:

  1. My sweet handsome man and the 24 years we’ve shared together
  2. My dad and the MR’s folks who are still living happy, active lives in their 70’s
  3. Weekends away with our sweet girls
  4. And long phone calls with them to catch up
  5. Our goofy dogs who make me laugh and keep me company
  6. My new job surrounded by yarn and the people who love it
  7. Hugs from preschoolers that make teaching Sunday school so worthwhile
  8. A roof over head in the midst of storms
  9. A loving God who cares about me
  10. Sweet friends to gather with on Wednesday mornings
  11. Museums, lunch dates, and shopping trips with friends
  12. Pedicures and laughter with people I love
  13. How my little brother always makes me smile
  14. The kindness of strangers
  15. The wonder of a baby and new life
  16. The simple pleasures every day brings

OK girls, I’m all caught up.

Hoping your life is filled with the joy of thankfulness now and every day of the year.

The Window Saga Continues

I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath to see whether the rest of the windows went in. Let me tell you, I had one sleepless night envisioning broken windows everywhere.

We had one disaster, one wrong size, and one oops we forgot, but the other 12 windows went in without a hitch.

I am oh so glad that I’m not the one lifting a hundred pounds of glass up on to the scaffolding—not one of my strengths.

scaffolding

The three windows we need to finish the job are all on order. In about two weeks, they’ll arrive, we’ll schedule install, and then we’ll be ready for the window films.

With any luck, that will all happen before June 24, when the film people show up on my doorstep. Until then we’ve put back the furniture and are enjoying a rustic, tape sunrise in the broken pane.

While it’s hard to tell the difference in the pictures I post, it’s really nice in real life to be looking at the view rather than the strange haze and stripes in the window.

clear doors

 

When you have to clear all your papers and piles off the kitchen desk so the guys can install a new window, you get to actually see how nice your desk looks when it’s white and clean.

Desk

 

I’m going to be more selective in what I allow to take up space in this area—yes to pretty boxes and plants, no to junk mail and clipboards.

With the Memorial Day Weekend, we’ve barbecued, played games and enjoyed spending time with Sweet Miss and her fella’ who are visiting for the long weekend.

I’ve never lived by a cemetery and was amazed the first year we moved here to see the graves decorated with flags for the holiday. We planned to stop and take pictures on the way home from the movies yesterday, but several families were gathered around graves of loved ones when we drove up.

It seemed a better choice to let you just picture in your mind small flags and crosses scattered across the hillside in remembrance of those we’ve lost.

Remembering the sweet people I’ve lost and loving those I’m with this holiday.

Happy Memorial Day to you and yours.

Thanks to Mary Kay and Linda for sharing their horrible remodeling experiences. I haven’t had to live with orange wall and explosions—yet. Your pain helped me laugh a little at my own.

 

Choices

Sometimes your kids call you on your junk.

A couple weeks ago, I was walking through the mall with my sweet girlies when I started talking about mattress pads. We had to stop at Macy’s and buy a new, the MR rolled over at night and ripped ours out over and over again. Sweet Miss said that was a tremendous trifle, and she was surprised that after more than 20 years I still get excited about these little things.

I guess she’s been learning something in all those family psychology classes. She’s right in that it’s a silly incidental, but when you live closely with people, these things add up.

Mattress

Things like Baby Girl messing up the pillows and leaving blankets on the couch at night.

Messy CouchOr running off to school and leaving tea wrappers and the toast fixings on the counter. Can’t you see those crumbs?

Tea wrapper and toast fixings

I can be crabby and kibbitz about it as I stomp around my house. Believe me, the dogs have heard an earful or two.

But I have a choice. I can clean it up, and be happy she ate breakfast before she rushed out the door. Many nights she’s off to work or out with friends; those messy pillows are a sign that she still cares enough to spend the evening with mom and dad. 

 Simply changing my attitude wasn’t working on the bed issue, and we never did make it to Macy’s, but I had a plan. This arrived in the mail the other day.

Mattress Pad

It’s a mattress pad that’s 20 inches deep. Since our mattress is only 12 inches , I think I have this problem solved. The mattress pad will no longer rip out, I will no longer be crabby at the MR when I make the bed, I can simply be happy and think about how lucky I am to have him here with me. 

So much of life is about choice.

If an attitude doesn’t work, then change the scenario. The neighbor boy at our first house kept riding his bike over the heather bush in the corner of our yard. We asked him to stop, but he was a kid, and it was a shortcut. When we landscaped that area, we moved the giant, thorny rose bush from beside the back door to that corner. He stopped riding his bike over our yard.

Sometimes you have to work a little to help everyone find success. 

How do you handle those little quibbles? Any success stories to share?      

Behind Closed Doors

On the face of it, we have these nice white cabinets. Who cares if they’re a little messy behind closed doors?

closed doors 2

Well, it’s not a big deal until a repairman and your husband have to climb under the sink over and over again when you’re hot water is on the fritz and you just smile and nod and pretend messy cabinets are no big deal, or when you’re looking for the scraper or the SOS pads that you set on the edge of the box of trash bags and they’ve disappeared in the void once more. This is all hypothetical, right? Or is it?

Under sink mess

First things first, I cleared it all out and gave the bottom of the cupboard a good scrub. Who knew we had a tube of tennis balls under the sink? Bogart loves to play and winds up losing them now and then. It can be quite handy if you actually remember you have them right there in the kitchen rather than a case all the way down in the wine cellar.

Clean Slate

 

I recycled the bottles destined for a craft project that never came about, tossed some old sponges, and finished off the dregs of an all-purpose cleaner with a quick toilet swish. Then it was time to put my mad building skills to the test. When I was out shopping with the girls last week, Sweet Miss stopped at the Container Store to look at office storage supplies, and I checked out the under sink organizers. This looked like it’d do the trick.

Organizer

 

So I put my ability to follow directions to the test, and viola–there it is.Organized Up Close 2

 

I tried to group like items and separate poisons from plant food and dog toys. Now I can easily find my cleaning gloves and know just how many half bottles of dish soap are lurking under the sink.

There’s something to be said for the saying:

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Perhaps now it’s time to tidy the desk area–again.

What little project did you tackle over the weekend?

Lighting It Up

Most of the year, we have a lot of light around here. All those windows let in the sunshine, and we don’t even bother turning on the lights once the sun comes up.

sunrise

 

And then winter comes. Shall we say the dark days of winter? The days when the sun goes down at 4 pm? The days when lights are required all day long because of the deep, dark Seattle gloom? I was excited the other day when the sun hadn’t set as I drove to town at 3:30 pm. Sure I needed sunglasses and a visor, but I wasn’t driving in the semi-gloom of sundown; it was sunset all the way.

Winters can be long, and let’s just say when I’m making dinner at 5 pm (yes, that’s after dark)  I need a little light. So late this fall, we figured out a few lights were missing, burnt out, on the blink, needing some help. The MR, good guy that he is, got out the ladder and got to work.

It was a no go. He took them apart, he changed the light bulb, he got out his multimeter, he jiggled wires. We were still in the dark.

furniture & lights 003

When I’m cooking you dinner, you don’t want me doing it without sufficient light unless you want everything blackened. So the MR told me to call an electrician–I know so many of them off the top of my head.

OK, so I went on Facebook the bane savior of the modern world. Our local community discussion board has asked for electrician recommendations twice in the last month and all four listings were for the same guy. I thought I’d give him a try.

One phone call, and he was scheduled for the next day. Sure he’d had a cancellation and just happened to be in our neck of the woods–which means the middle of nowhere. This was a small miracle.

I may sound a little bitter. Let me explain. Our microwave started displaying an error message around the beginning of the year. Well, it’s slick and sleek, but JennAir microwaves don’t have the best performance record, so we bought the extended service.

When I called in, they got my email address wrong–it’s my name which is really hard to figure out especially when it’s on a computer screen in front of you–and so I waited for four days to hear from the extended warranty company. Then when I called them back, they had me call a company that refused to service extended warranties because they were simply too busy. Well hello, tell your affiliate that so I don’t have to call you. Finally, I got a hold of someone who actually would do the job in three weeks–thank you very much.

OK, so I was a little crabby with repairmen, electricians, deliveryman, Fed Ex guys–maybe I’m just crabby.

Anyways, the fact that he could come the next day was awesome. Since he was coming, I decided I’d figure out just how many lights we had that didn’t work. That may sound a little crazy. Why wouldn’t I know? Because the fellow who designed this house had a thing for lights. Shall we say obsession?

We have 40 light switches to control the lights in the great room. Let’s be honest, even after three years I don’t know which switch to push.

So what did I do? I turned on all the lights. I know crazy; we never do that.

furniture & lights 002

And one of the lights by the bookcases in the office area was out. We also had two lights out over the china hutch, but the MR said he’d take care of those.

We have Lightolier, low voltage lights, that use a transformer to convert from regualr 110 voltage to the lower watt 12-volt light bulbs. The MR and the electrician figured the transformers were blown, and we’d need to order new ones.

This is 20-year-old technology, far from state of the art, so it’s hard to say which parts and how much it would cost.

So the electrician came out, he actually called to confirm while our new furniture was being delivered. I was a little busy and failed to answer the phone. He took a chance and came out anyways.

Well, after a little digging around, it wasn’t the transformer. It was just a faulty connection after 20-plus years of use. Derek of Alive Electric showed me how to fix the loose connection next time and fixed all four of our broken lights.

OK, so I paid almost $200 for someone to change a few light bulbs–he didn’t even have to do that; he just had to make sure they were screwed in properly. But the MR was figuring on a minimum $800 bill, and Derek made sure next time I could fix the problem on my own–or at least my guy on a really tall ladder could.

So I’m totally recommending Alive Electric for your next electrical worries, and my cooking is back on track. I know you were concerned.

As to why I was mad at the Fed Ex guy, well our doorbell has disappeared and instead of my regular order, he was delivering something for the MR that needed a signature, so I had to stick around home day two and wait for it.

Oh, and the Crate and Barrel guys have no idea how to get to our house, so I ran half a mile to get them–no I’m not going to take the car up the driveway and get into another accident. And no, our house isn’t the one with four motorcycles, a fence, and a dog in a cage. Let’s face it buddy, you weren’t at the right place.

They did recommend a cone at the top of the driveway, since someone threw away our address numbers on a lovely sign. And they liked our house, so they can’t be all bad.

Where do you find handymen, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, repairmen, or any of those people you need every now and then to keep your world right?

By the by, a giant wind storm knocked out the power for 12+ hours early Sunday morning. Thankfully we have a generator, so we could watch the Seahawks big comeback against the Packers. Miracles never cease to amaze me. After the win, our microwave came back to life. Maybe the Hawks are big microwave fans. It’s a mystery.

Weathering the Storm

A hail storm blew through last week. My dad is from the the midwest, and he says we don’t have “real” hail around here–just sleet. Well, it was plenty noisy pounding on the windows and dancing around on the deck. It looked like hail to me. It was about that time that I noticed hail bouncing on our little wood side table. Perhaps that’s why it seemed so noisy.

Hail on TableApparently the hail was piling up around the exhaust fans in the ceiling and just pouring on through. With a steady forecast of rain for the weekend, I was worried that the MR wouldn’t have a chance to take a look at the problem, but he was able to fix it up with tar and flashing on Saturday morning.

Good thing he did; cause Saturday night it started to pour, the wind blew, the trees fell, and the power went it–for one day, no let’s make that two.

Kenji and his crew were due back early Monday to get rid of the waves in the flooring, but with no power, we told him to hold off. It was a beautiful day, so he probably could have worked here. But as the MR pointed out, we shouldn’t encourage contractors to drive over and under downed power and telephone lines to get to our house. He’s always so smart.

Monday was Baby Girl’s last regular season volleyball match, and when we left at five the power was still out. But when we arrived home that evening, I texted BG this welcome photo.

photo 2 (105)

So nice to have lights, heat, water, all the niceties we’re used to. We are lucky in that we have a generator and were able to keep the food cold and power the well, as needed. Even with our limited usage, the propane tank for the generator went from 80 percent down to 55, and winter hasn’t even started.

So what do you do when you’re trapped at home with limited power? Finish up a few projects of course.

photo 1 (106)

And get ready for the next round of renovation. As you may remember, we’ve been redoing the floors. We started back in the spring and loved how the Semco flooring remade the tile walkways. (Check it out here.) Then in September, we started on phase two redoing the upstairs and the carpeted area in the great room (here). Bringing the subfloor up to the formerly tiled floor level has been a bit of a challenge. We weren’t happy with the difference in texture between the two, so Kenji and his team are back to make things right.

floor

They put down the scratch coat yesterday, and cross your fingers, it’ll all be finished by Thursday. We’ll be able to move our furniture back Saturday, and the echo will go away. Living in flux gets to me, so I’m looking forward to the end of the crazy.

How was your weekend? Storms headed your way?