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It's Done!

May 4th, 2010 at 07:44 pm

& so it is done...

Dh called me around noon to tell me the painters were done, and called me back in the afternoon to tell me the paint company's owner picked up the check.

I just got home, and boy, they did a GREAT job!

I had wanted to do a once over before dh handed over the check, but I guess it didn't matter.

They just have to come back tomorrow to put the weather stripping back on the front door.

& so ends our first "big maintenance" as homeowners. Heck, the only other maintenance we have done, is bird proofing. We've been homeowners for about 10.5 years.

$2200 to paint the exterior. Definitely worth every penny.

I am just in awe in how quickly they painted the house and what a great job they did. It was about 12 hours of prep, painting, and cleanup, I'd say. Not including a couple of hours of power washing, last week.

I will post pictures, later. Big Grin

Not So Manic Monday

May 3rd, 2010 at 04:02 pm

I think dh mentioned it, but I remembered my LONG put off optometrist appointment was today. I decided to postpone it, with the pink eye and everything. BM also stayed home from school today - because he looked terrible. LM and I look like we can *fit in* with normal looking eyes. Though we shouldn't be contagious; just kept BM home to be safe. He has been really difficult to give drops too - not sure how much is making it into the eye!

I was relieved that his eyes looked a little less red, at lunch.

I suppose this is another reason I am glad I just went with my HMO for the appointment. It was simple to reschedule, online on a Sunday. I just put off to next week.

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Painting has started on the house. How exciting!

I have heard that the first 8 (or 10?) years is when a new house really settles. There are lots of little cracks to fill in and such - it is more than just about the paint. Though we didn't wait for the paint job to look "horrible," I still look forward to the facelift.

Oh - I believe there will be some "hidden costs" to the paint job. I presume they will use our electricity and water, which we tend to be quite frugal with. So, will expect a big bill, for May!

Also, we have a LOT of natural light in our house - it is so open and has so many windows. Anyway, with the windows all taped up, it was eery how dark the house was. We will be using way more lights than usual, I am sure. They should finish up Wednesday.

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Here's something I had never heard of before. A friend told me that her neighbor paints one side of his house, every year.

May be a little overkill, but it is definitely an interesting approach, to just bite off a little at a time. I suppose the every year thing keeps it looking fresh. One wall every 2-3 years might start to look a little more weird?

Maybe part of me is glad to have a very tall house so I don't have to do the math and feel guilty for not doing it myself. Paying a $1500-ish premium (over cost) to not break my neck, sounds good to me. If I had a single story, I would consider the once a year/frugal strategy.

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Had the funniest exchange with dh over the weekend.

I am probably guilty of not vocalizing all my plans - I keep a lot of things up in my head. IF it's "hell no we can't justify that right now," I just file it away (in my head) for later.

Anyway, I saw some decent patio set on sale, in the paper, for $300, and I just said aloud how maybe we should buy something like that, next year.

My dh flipped out a bit. To which I took great offense. Thing is, he rarely wants to buy anything for less than $1k-$2k. It's always big things, with him. So of course I told him to give me a break - it was flipping $300. Since when do I get to buy anything?

Anyway, we both calmed down, eventually. I told him that we had treated our patio furniture really bad, and I just wanted to start over. To which he replied, we never use it. To which I replied, because it's repulsive.

So anyway, AGES AGO, I bought a cover for the table, and dh hemmed and hawed about how ridiculous it was and how hard it was to remove the umbrella. To which I pointed out that I didn't really have issues with the table, or all of the chairs. Maybe we just needed an easier to remove, umbrella. IT really should be brought in every winter, with the chairs, and the table covered. The cover still sits unopened in the garage. I swear I bought it before we had kids.

NEedless to say, at some point dh went outside, and hosed off the umbrella. He opened it to dry off. IT was a bit windy and I saw it spinning around and suggested he put it down (I just meant close it). I would open it later when it settled down. It gets wasp nests when it is closed, and so then we can never use it!

SO, dh misunderstood and put the thing in the garage!

So I Ask him - if he left some of the pole sticking out or if I could actually put a cover on it. HE said the table was ready for a cover.

Oy vey! All that hemming and hawing, and he was able to remove the entire umbrella twice in one day.

So, all I had to do was threaten to spend $300??? Give me a break.

The whole thing is still not resolved. We have 3 white chairs that have turned a dark rust color. They are disgusting. The other 3 are fine. I will commit to bring them inside during winter. The other three can go in the trash as far as I am concerned. I told dh I may still buy some chairs - they don't have to match 100%. He doesn't agree. Sometimes he drives me nuts. Lord forbid I Want a chair that doesn't look disgusting.

In other home imrovement news, I am so tempted to get a screen door. With the house all spruced up, and a little cash, I think it would be a nice touch. I have wanted one forever - like a storm door so we can open up the front door in the summer and get a cool breeze through the house. Maybe it will save us some electricty (AC) costs in summer. Big Grin

But, I may put that one off. We need a custom door, is the problem.

Anyway, I can identify with ceejay. Having some money to get some stuff done around the house - and I have some long put-off projects in mind. I'd just like to get it taken care of so we can jump into super savings mode, for next year.

For whatever reason, dh was not opposed to the door. Maybe because I mentioned it multiple times over the years. Seriously, I am sure that's all it is.

Well, glad I mentioned it. I am going to scrub the patio table, and get out the nice chairs, and enjoy the backyard a bit this spring. Hallelujah for shade (from the umbrella).

Contractor Stories

April 22nd, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Our first home was a condo (little upkeep, but had been completely remodeled before we moved in, so we didn't do a thing to the place). Second home was bought brand new.

Needless to say, I don't have a lot of contractor stories, even if we have been homeowners for a decade.

We are probably going to have our house painted in the next couple of weeks.

We have been waiting a year (or two) for some neighbors to paint. To get a good recommendation. To see who was good and who to stay away from.

We gave up on this angle. Since no one has painted their home.

I haven't really asked many friends. I asked a couple of financially savvy friends for referrals. They have never painted their home. This is they kind of thing I wouldn't just taken any referral. I think people tend to be really stupid. I have had terrible referrals in the past. If it's not family, I am wary of any recommendation of this type. I just want a good/ethical contractor that is reasonably priced.

All that said, it's not an area we have any experience with!

I think we may have lucked out with this painter, but won't speak too soon. Found an ad online. Has been in business forever, A+ rating with the BBB, properly licensed and insured, and all that jazz. I picked him because he was giving rock bottom prices "due to the economy." I would stay away from any ad that had the word "cheap" in the price. I don't want cheap - I Want quality. The way his ad was worded, sold me.

Of course, he looks good on paper, but the next step was to meet him in person, and get a quote (and a gut feeling).

I would generally get multiple quotes and maybe we should, but from what I know about prices, I know the price we did get is rock bottom. I know no one has complained about this guy to anyone who matters (licensing board, or BBB) in the last few years. I know he has been in business for many decades. Liked him as much in person. He does not even ask for a deposit (which would be standard). It seemed clear he would go above and beyond the minimum standard - looking at the contract.

So, will see how it goes. & so we bite the bullet. Dh is supposed to call him this week. Though with all the rain, lord knows when we can get it done. No rush - my angle was just to get a discount with the pre-season. Plus, probably best to paint before the wasps move in. Why I kind of wanted to beat warmer weather a bit. But I Can wait a couple of weeks!

Of course, I am open to ANY advice on the subject.

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We actually hired a contractor when we first bought our home, to get the backyard landscaped. Concrete, lawn, irrigation, plants/trees.

I am sure it was in the realm of $5k, though I don't remember for sure. At the time, we had tons of landscapers going door to door. We asked a couple of our neighbors who actually did their yards (most waited YEARS - ugh). They all had horror stories and said they wouldn't recommend their landscapers. If nothing else, they don't show up.

Great!

We started talking to the door to door guys and settled on someone who sounded like they really knew what they were doing, and was really "cheap," to boot. Wasn't the lowest quote we got. Just the "best feeling" we got. We were really young and no idea what we were doing. Though I am sure we got advice about what to ask about and look for.

The results are mixed. In the end, turns out the guy was using a relative's license (he had a very similar name). The whole thing was kind of frustrating. We would never know, but he didn't pay for the concrete, and so the concrete company put a lien on our house. Yeah. So, dh calls them, and they tell us that they are going to report us for hiring someone without a license. Okay then. Report away. How do you explain how you allow a non-licensed contractor to get a lien on our house??? Maybe they found out after the fact. I have no idea - but they seemed to have a clearer picture of the situation than we did.

Dh tracked down the actual licensed contractor we thought we had hired. HE paid the bill, apologized for his relative, and that was that. No more lien.

So, yeah, not a great experience.

Don't get me wrong - he did a nice job. But we tried to do right, and the whole thing kind of sucked in the end.

Anyway, in the end I suppose it worked. He showed up and did a nice job for a reasonable price. Extra reaosonable because he was a fraud, I suppose.

Sometimes another perspective can be so eye opening. Only recently, one of our neighbors commented how we had the nicest landscape job. I had never really thought about it. But, they had bought a second house in the neighborhood and both the homes just had terrible backyards. She was telling me how much she loved our trees when she lived behind us, and how nice our landscaping look compared to theirs.

I suppose though the guy was a fraud, he obviously knew what he was doing and did a nice job. We asked for "low maintenance" and that is what we got. It was only looking at my neighbor's crappy looking yard that I appreciated that we really could have done a lot worse. So, phew.

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Needless to say, when we met with the painter, we asked to see his I.D. He also apologetically told us he had to disclose about the whole lien thing, legally. "Oh, but I've never had to put a lien on anyone's home." Dh and I just looked at each other when that subject came up.

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Actually, I am also looking for someone to clean our gutters and do a small repair. I thought that maybe we should just rush that out before the paint job. Probably should, but I can't find anyone. I just want someone license/insured who doesn't have terrible reviews all over the internet. A lot of contractors say they are, without sharing their license #. Clearly not licensed - so probably not insured. Still more homework to do for that one. There's no (big) trees so we have never cleaned our gutters. Dh found a leak and was going to take care of it, but has never got around to it. I had to climb up on the lower roof to remove some of the Dish equipment and saw the buildup in the gutter. It does need a cleaning, to prevent more damage.

Funny enough, a lot of gutter places around here do pigeon cleanup and bird proofing, etc. I had NO IDEA. We hired a guy to put up bird proofing and he moved away. Last time we just called a big pest control company to fix one area, but they didn't clean up all the bird droppings on the roof. Looks like we can get the painter or the gutter cleaner to spray that off. & it's nice to know who to call if we ever have any problems. (Knock on wood, but haven't had any bird issues in a while. The birds are pretty bad around here - well, they were).

I may renew my gutter cleaning/fixing efforts this weekend. Might as well get it done.

Why not do our own? Oy vey! Not the proper tools/ladders/guts for the crazy high gutters. Will spend $150 for a pro. It's a steal.

Going forward, will probably have to do a wee bit more often than once a decade.

Oh yeah - we never wash our windows either. I don't see the point. Painter said they would be "cleaned" in the process with the spray - and they go over them with a squeegee so they look nice. Our house will look so shiny!

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I know - I have been so knee deep in work, I haven't felt terribly bloggy.

But, now I am knee deep in home improvements and long put off stuff - all costing money - and thus I swing the other way, to very bloggy.

Project Complete!

November 27th, 2009 at 07:37 pm

Between Thanksgiving, my super-mini-vacays, and all this health stuff, I have not completed the bath projects.

I figured I'd get our shower up and running (haven't used in years), BUT as I finished the shower I noticed grout falling out of another seam. IT was very small, but decided I should go over that with caulk. (Went over the seam - top to bottom - tall shower).

I also had to go around the tub, where if meets the floor. I decided against ripping out the old caulk around the tub, since it is rarely used. I didn't need to finish the tub, to use the shower.

BUT, it had been so long, today I did the final shower seam, and around the tub.

It needs to dry for 24 hours (will aim for days to be extra sure). & the tub may need another layer. But by next weekend we will have our shower back! I am so excited.

There is still a lot of work to be done in the kids' bath, BUT, I am investing in some caulk remover and hope that helps.

I dread working on the kitchen sink. It's just so big around. You'd think the tub would be larger, but at least it is all straight, and not all the way around, etc. I will also have to work quickly on the sink - it will be hard to cook without it!

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We were introduced to a new game called Munchkin. It's pretty fun and we now own a couple of variations. Another birthday present for me. (Was curious who the Munchkin fans were - Big Grin )

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Got some fun/frugal things planned for tomorrow (utilizing memberships), and Sunday will be "home improvement day" as I start tackling the other bath.

Chores, Chores, Chores

November 1st, 2009 at 05:07 pm

"Productivity" must be in the air. It is definitely a fall thing.

**Counted kids' money today, and BM has a $50 deposit. It is so funny how crammed full his piggy bank was with $1 bills. Mental note: check his piggy bank more often.

For now, BM is the saver (he is like dh: likes his electronics, but hell if he would spend a dime on anything else. Seems totally disinterested in fads. Though, since dh gets so many games and books for free, he is content).

LM is more imaginative and could play with lint all day, but he also likes collecting little characters. He has been the spendy one. That being said, Grandma spoils him a bit, and as spendy as he is, he still had about $40 in his piggy bank. Go figure. (He doesn't get an allowance yet, so BM has much more dough).

**Dh and I discussed no-spend November. Well, I think it will be "low-spend November." We've spent our money for the year, pretty much. (Keep in mind - all our November bills are already paid, etc. Anything in December will mostly be charged, and paid in January).

Today I reconciled all our "savings buckets" accounts - spreadsheets - through the end of the year. In the end, I don't think we will have to touch any other savings (barring Murphy or unforeseen), but on the flip side I am upset that I have no money to add to the efund. Maybe next year!

We will end rather breakeven in short-term savings, and with $0 in the medical savings. $20k-ish in more long-term savings/efund.

I think short term savings needs a $150/month boost. That is where preschool money will divert to, mid-2010.

(Drats - and I forgot to account for possible $1k car repair. Might have to touch savings, after all. Won't beat myself up over it since short-term savings covered $2k body work on the van this year. I'll be lucky to have barely touched our "true savings," otherwise.).

**I've finished most of my goals for the year, but have completely ignored all my "house goals."

Until the month of October anyway.

This weekend I:

*Touched Up Paint
*Trimmed Trees (never done before)
*starting demolition on bathroom repairs.

Last one sounds fancy, but I am mostly just removing grout, old caulk, and cleaning for re-caulking.

The nice thing is I have all the time in the world for bath projects. I have quite a few areas to work on. Our bathroom has not been used for years, and so I will take my time on it. Once it is in working order, we can start work on the other bath. The perk to having 2 full baths. (My bath will be the most tedious - the only one with grout to remove. The reason being that it was falling out all over the place. I got all the easy stuff on Friday, and the rest will be a chore. Just where the tile meets the bottom of the shower. I have read that it should be caulked - where different materials meet - so that is what I will do. I read builders are bad about this detail, but it hasn't affected our other 2 tubs. I am just going to caulk over the other 2 tubs since the grout has held up. Phew!).

The only other frustration this weekend is that the door paint, which we had never opened or used, was all "curdled." We went by the paint store today, but it was closed. Doh! Builder gave us small 1/2 gallons of touch up paint, and wrote down the paint #s. Hopefully it will be easy to replace (though I am not terribly sure that it's the right paint to begin with?).

So all I was able to touch up was the walls, but they do look like a million bucks.

In the end, might have to pick a new color for 2 doors, and completely repaint them. Worst case, anyway.

Anyway, I was starting to think I might not hit any house goals this year. No idea where this motivation has come from, but I will take it!

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Enjoy it while you can. I don't plan to make "house repair" a hobby. I have actually been a pretty terrible procrastinator on this. Like, I rather not use the shower, than fix it!

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Dh earned his keep. He did minor garage door repair, changed air filters, and promised to repair a hole in the wall (from doorknob - pesky kids loosened the door stopper). Him and the kids helped me with the trees, too. Dh did the grunt work.

Oh yeah - I figured I'd attempt to remove our small, dead tree. It seemed wobbly, so I gave it a good kick. Well, that was all it needed! Dh ended up having to saw it up into smaller pieces. It was just too dry/brittle. But I was able to get all the live tree branches trimmed. Borrowed saw came in handy!

I also drug dh along on a home repair shopping trip. Though I ended up buying most of it online (cheaper).

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One thing to add: I puzzled over our grocery bill this month, since it was quite high, for 2 months in a row. & um, family was gone for ONE WEEK? I thought this month would even out since dh had stocked up on so much before their trip in October. (To be fair - I gave a fair amount of food away because dh cooked more like for 2-3, than for one).

Anyway, I swear the kids have asked for a snack about 100 times today!!!!! I think I can see the culprits! They usually do not eat light in the least, but I think keeping them well fed will be challenging for a while. They get this way with growth spurts. I can not imagine what it will be like to have 2 teenaged boys!!! With their metabolisms? Oy vey!! Glad I have time to save up for that - may need a second income. Or a Costco membership. Wink

Monday, Monday

October 26th, 2009 at 02:56 pm

Weekend was productive.

Cleaning progress was made, and the dryer vents were cleaned.

Though I could probably do a once over in every room - to get them all sparkling top to bottom, they probably look better than they have in years. (TIME is key here. Time is not something I've had much luxury of since having babies!). Time and motivation - not sure where the motivation materialized from. But for a quiet week to myself - it really kickstarted me. Maybe I should kick the family out of the house for a week, every year! Big Grin

Anyway, besides time, it helps to have more helping hands around (the kids). With little time and more money, I have rebeled against much "DIY" in recent years. But, I do realize my willingness to get my hands dirty has more to do with time than anything. That's my conclusion as I take on more projects I had intended to hire out. (I still rather get things done *right,* and not do things I hate with a passion - like yardwork. But I find myself taking on more, all the same, with more time).

November projects include touch up painting, and bathroom repairs (resealing tubs & sinks). Maybe some tree pruning and removal. Dh has a wall to repair. I am feeling motivated on long put off projects. But if these are done, the house will be rather beautified for it's 8th birtday.

Next year, we may make progress on the outside (fresh paint and a new fence - on our To-Do list. Though I would label us as the types to put this stuff off, in the end, what do I know? Will likely be the first in the neighborhood. A major reason we have delayed is hoping to get painter recommendations from neighbors. But everyone is too broke to maintain their house, it seems. We were also the first to put in our yard, so I guess I under-estimate ourselves in some regard. Though literally, I can't believe it if we are the first to paint our house. Just sad, since some homes are looking so shabby. Our light colored paint has held up better than a lot of the others).

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Yesterday we went to the pumpkin patch. We had Southern weather. Everyone was in their tank tops - it was WARM! It was rather surreal.

Still crazy warm weather here. Usually around now I struggle to keep the heat off. Instead, we have struggled to keep the AC off. Literally.

& yes, I Was buying fleece just a couple of weeks ago because we had a chilly night or two. Hasn't gotten much use!

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That's the long and the short of it, from my corner of the world.

I think November will be about projects around the house!

I am also considering trying to get dh on board with a no-spend November. We've just been spending too much, lately. Staying home and working on the house, may be productive. But if I could talk him into not purchasing anything for a month (besides groceries/fuel), well, I think that would be helpful. Though, certainly a challenge. I think November is a good month because we bought a lot of toys the last few months. We should be able to do it. Heck - I'd like to start this no-spend thing, tomorrow! (Speaking of time - I had too much time to shop while the family was gone. That was the downside. The busier I am, the less money I spend).

Weather Changes

October 14th, 2009 at 09:13 am

Yes, I do think the storm is over. Phew. Was pretty nasty.

Still warm. House is at 71. No heat needed. No sun, but it also didn't get any colder over night. So house temp has stayed rather steady. Usually it warms up a bit during the day and drops back to 70 in the colder nights. Major reason why is extreme energy efficiency in the house. Our parents & friends have been running their heat for weeks, in their older homes.

Yesterday I turned up the hot water heater a bit. I put a black mark where we had it set for summer. We average 6 Therms a month in the summer. I can't remember where I set it for winter, or fall, so I think I will mark the winter level once we find it again. Summer is marked. We go in between for spring and fall.

Chalk that one up to energy efficiency too. Funny thing is we LOVE our HOT showers. I think between the insulation and the hot garage, it just doesn't have to work very hard in summer. Plus, in summer we are probably happy with "lukewarm."

I also turned off the outside irrigation ahead of the storm. Seemed a good time to reset everything for our more wet fall/winter. In summer we were told to conserve water for drought, but both the HOA and the city were clear that unnatural emerald green lawns were still expected. But that we could only water every other day.

Talk about conflicting messages!

I decided to stick to my watering 2 times a day schedule, and stick to the days the city allowed. If they wanted to bother us we would ask them how to make our lawn look nicer not being able to water every day in 100+ temps.

(Our city is known for being huge water wasters. Our long term goal is to do desert landscaping in the backyard. Not allowed in the front yard, of course).

Anyway, the summer was a tad mild, which maybe helped. But the watering schedule really did well. The lawn stayed pretty green, and we used a lot less water than usual. Phew. We've only been watering 2 times a day for a couple of years. IT seems like a good strategy - and is allowed. WE are limited to 20 minutes a day or something.

Last fall I wrote down our fall/winter watering schedule, which was a huge help. I lowered the watering times and switched everything to water only one time a day. Kept it at 3 days a week or whatever it was for summer. I made sure to write down where everything was at for summer. I should have done all this sooner. I can never remember how we watered last year or where the hot water was set, etc. Hopefully this makes life easier.

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I ran by the store this morning and stocked up on tea. Good Earth Original - sweet and spicy. The one I mentioned yesterday.

Thankfully my friend told me to look in the Health Food aisle. Wasn't sure what that meant, but I found it easily enough.

I actually got the last 2 boxes - is a popular one.

Amazon cost 60 cents more per box, to buy in bulk. I may shop around a bit if I don't get sick of it. But looks like grocery store wins - will ask dh to keep an eye out for it on sale.

For soda - I had settled back onto the small cans (12 ounces?). More expensive, but I drink so much less that way. I've come full circle. Dh had talked me out of them because they were more expensive! I picked up some six-packs at Target for about $2.50 or so. "Ugh," I thought. So while at the store I checked just in case they were on sale. Full price there was more like $3.50. Suddenly $2.50 didn't seem so bad. I will keep an eye out. Though I do hope to wean off a bit with the tea as a replacement. A much cheaper habit, that is for sure.

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We will probably get dh's brakes checked this week. Not sure what to expect since at 100k+ miles they have never had any brake work done. BUT, we have had them checked many times. Always fine and dandy. (FORD, by the way. You don't have to spend a fortune to get a decent car. My pet peeve of late).

They felt *off* to me last week and so I talked dh into it, though he thinks I am crazy. Better safe than sorry. (I've lost my brakes before - he hasn't).

Interestingly, my brakes were grinding this morning. I think it is just from the rain/storm. They were fine once I got on my way. BUT, I was thinking it just figures. Our cars have settled on the same repair schedule. Though mine (DODGE) is at 70k miles. But obviously 70k miles isn't bad either, for no brake work. I can't complain if they both need brake work. Or new brakes altogether.

I think our driving habits are very different up here. Neither of us particularly drives in stop and go. No brake work since moving up here, though I always had brake work done in the Bay Area. Much more often!

I was going through our auto records a while back. As much as my car has pissed me off with it's issues, I realized my vehicle has had no mechanical issues (knock on wood). What it has had is a lot of electrical/computer issues. It makes me realize our tendency to buy stripped down/less featured models in our younger more broke years really paid off. When I smashed my van door the first thing I thought was, "Thank goodness that is not an electric door." Because of course everyone else I know has an electric door. My annoyance at the very idea ended up being more logical than I realized. All those fancy features just add up to one more thing that can break. I knew that, but as I now own a nicer vehicle with more features, I really feel the pain in the pocketbook.

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In financial news, Fidelity sent me a notice that they will start to charge low balance fees for funds under $2k.

I have a few funds I wanted to add a little to while the stock market it low. But it would really throw off my stock market allocation! So I haven't.

Anyway, if I contribute my November ROTH contribution to Fidelity, I will save $12. I guess that is good motivation to top that one off.

I rather the market go lower before I feel enticed to add to the others. Like other bloggers have mentioned, I expect the market to dip again too. Either that or I at least wanted to evaluate my cash position in December. Will see.

Week Sum Up

October 8th, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Weather Update: Man, it's warmed up.

I mentioned I went shopping crazy. Well, I walked into Target and all the workout clothing was on sale. Fleece sweats $6.49 or something like that. It's been cold, my hubby (heat for bed) is out of town, and there is fleece for $6. I am sold. I went *way* off my shopping list!

Anyway, so back to the weather. It was in the 100s just like 10 days ago. & then I heard on the weather with the record cold temps, the ski slopes at Tahoe are opening record early - this weekend. What happened to the record hot temps? & then I bundled up in my fleece, and woke up sweating. Today the house warmed up and I am back in my summer PJs. Weather can't make up it's mind. Wonder how that whole snow/ski thing is going to pan out. Unless I am unaware of an approaching cold front. Wink It was only COLD for a couple of days.

Back to Target. I know, I know. Maybe I have been too harsh on Target. I have been boycotting their adult clothes, though for the kids I don't care. They are rough on the clothes, but they don't wear them long enough to matter. The stuff is cheaper than thrift - I buy all the kids' clothes there and at Hanes any more. But *I* want to buy something I can wear every days for years, if I like. & I have been noticing that anything I buy at Target doesn't pass muster. So I stopped buying clothes there. & have been spending a lot less on clothes in the end.

So when I saw the $6 fleece, I thought about it. I wondered if I wanted to spend $6 on something that might just fall apart. BUT, it turned out to be Hanes fleece. So I was sold. I guess maybe I should peruse Target sales a little more - they do have other brands. I wouldn't buy anything Target specific though, personally. But it was a good experience to remember there are other brands there. Some good ones.

& this is why I ended up getting some warmer/brighter workout clothing, for winter bike riding, at Target. Was a popular brand I saw in all the stores. Figured what the heck. Sales were good. Though still no luck with pants.

Fleece was cheap, and workout clothing I have been looking for, for a while. They hit my $10 price point - yay! Now I just hope the stuff lasts.

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I got distracted, but I got the final closet pictures. My biggest project of the week, perhaps.









I still have to go through a few things with dh.

Dh is always hiding kids' presents on top of that black dresser, under blankets and such. I had a novel idea to just move the stuff inside the dresser. Duh.

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Status:

**Master Bath is sparking, Master Closet and bedroom remain clean.

**Dining Room is still immaculate (no one to mess it up - hehe).

**Living Room is filled with about 8 Goodwill Bags

**Carpets have not been washed yet (maybe tomorrow or Saturday)

**Dishes clean, and new table clothe to brighten dining nook. (Not a lot of choices so I went white. Said machine washable. Will see! I have enjoyed it for the week anyway).

I did decide to not mess with the rest of the family room/kitchen. I'll let the fam recover this weekend, but they can help me clean it up another weekend. I don't need to clean the entire house by myself.

The same attitude about the kids' bathroom and rooms. Will be a team effort sometime after their return.

**The fridge is FULL of food. I used another 2-for-1 BK coupon today when my lunch plans changed (was going to come home and eat through leftovers). & I have lunch plans for tomorrow. We will be eating leftovers Sunday and Monday. But maybe it will go fast when the fam returns. Anyway, it was stupid to get 2 sandwiches when I am going out tomorrow. I had forgotten. I will have my second sandwich for dinner, since it won't last very long. My parents are taking me out for fondue Saturday, and well, the fridge will remain full as it is until the voracious eaters return.

I've barely eaten a sandwhich all week - I even have a loaf of bread left.

I bet the family will look forward to all the leftovers. Bet they miss the home cooking. The have been eating out all week.

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Today I jumped on the productive train again.

Worked all day, did dishes and laundry. Cooked a simple dinner. Went shopping for some more work pants (had to exchange - bought wrong size. I did try on other things, but luckily nothing fit well. I stuck to my exchange. IT always amazes me when I walk into a store 2 days later and it is filled with new stuff. EVIL). Finished up the last touches on the closet, made the kids' beds, put away clean sheets, lugged goodwill bags downstairs. Put out trash (trash got taken today, and I already filled our trash container back up).

Phew!

Caught up on internet, and still time to read.

Today was my last crazy busy day. I am going to unwind my last couple of days of "freedom." Only things left on my "To Do List" are to clean carpets, and pick up my family from the airport!

Getting a Slow Start Today

October 6th, 2009 at 08:38 am

I think my "vacation" has fared well.

I got a lot done yesterday. But I ALSO had time to read, to watch a fair amount of TV (got caught up on Medium - love that show though it's hokey often times). & I took a nice nap!!!!

I ran all my errands in the morning and did most the housework after 5pm. I've had more energy than usual. Maybe all the restful sleep and endless free time. But it's dangerous. A day in front of the TV and napping can zap my energy pretty fast. So I am proud I didn't waste the day away.

I have way too much food!!!! I know they boys eat far more than I. But it is readily apparent as I look in the fridge. I have barely made a dent. What was dh thinking? He was thinking he was cooking for a bottomless pit, like our sons.

I wouldn't be surprised if I lose weight this week. BEcause I have been too busy to eat. AND because I have been working so hard it has decreased my appetite. The more I work out, the less hungry I am usually.

IT could have easily gone the other way. I am an emotional eater and could have easily eaten tons of junk while I miss the family. So I am rather surprised with myself, thus far.

Anyway, my parents are going to visit me and help me eat through this food. Phew! I am starting to worry if some of it will go to waste. I guess I will take down whatever is left, to my parents, this weekend when I pick up the fam. There's a plan, since it is hard to judge what I will eat the rest of the week.

But basically, I can't fit one more thing into the fridge!!!!! I bought some eggs on sale yesterday, since I love hard boiled eggs. I could barely fit them in the fridge - yeesh.

Anyway, to revisit my list yesterday:

1 - Kohls - shop with my $10 "coupon"
*2 - Groceries (just a few items, like, we are out of cereal and PEPSI!)
*3 - Best Buy for recycle
*4 - Crown books for a treat

*5 - Vacuum closet/finish tidying up
6 - Arrange CDs (ones to keep)
*7 - Wash bed sheets
*8 - Clean up bedroom - dust/vacuum
*9 - Clean Master Bath - make it sparkle
10 - Maybe start some carpet washing in the p.m. This can certainly wait
*11 - Clean toilets - as everything else is getting so clean, I am noticing the toilets haven't been cleaned in a while

12 - Update Quicken / Look at Sep. expenses

* - Complete!!!

I need to go to Best Buy again today - more recycling.

I skipped Kohls because I forgot my coupon. Noticed when I got there, but I was only traveling to one shopping center, like a mile away, for all my stops. No biggie.

Carpet washing and Quicken are easily doable on a work day.

SO, I feel rather accomplished.

I also renewed my car's license and my driver's license, online.

TODAY

Not much planned. Will take it easy and enjoy houseguests.

Before they arrive I would like to clean the kitchen a bit. I don't expect it to take long. Famous last words... & I will run to Best Buy, Target and Kohls.

Will see. I got a slow start today. I am annoyed that everything opens at 8am, but Best Buy not until 10? I was annoyed, but since I still haven't showered or dressed, I guess it will work out. My parents won't get here until noon.

One funny thing - I never make the bed. Never see the point. I hate having my feet covered up and so kick the covers off all the time. & though dh blames all the blanket whoas on me, I think he is a little guilty.

So last night, it was chilly, and I bundled up in bed, and left my feet in after I had made the bed all pretty, etc. I woke up, got out of bed, and looked at it. It hardly looked like anyone slept in it! It took me about 1 second to make the bed. To straighten the covers. I thought to myself, "This is why people make the bed." LOL. I would too, if I always slept so still.

Just another Manic Monday

October 5th, 2009 at 09:09 am

Brrrrrr. I woke up to a chill. Last week it was over 100 degrees. This morning I wake up to 45-degree weather. What the heck? We RARELY get below-40 weather here. IT feels like summer one day, and like winter the next. Last "fall" was like this. I am not used to such extreme weather changes. I usually have more time to adjust to the cold. No doubt it is time to dig out the warmer clothes.

Fall weather always leaves me feeling very "spring cleany." I think the thing is in the spring I am just bursting to get outside. But in the fall, suddenly you are holed up inside. & then you see all the projects you have been putting off while enjoying all the nice weather for many months. This year in particular, since we have rarely been home all summer and really let the house go. It seems natural to work on the house, now that I rather be inside!

IT also seems everyone has been sick. A quick perusal of Facebook anyway, shows all the locals with sick kids and such. I am glad I am on "quarantine" (spending my days pretty alone and holed up) and that the kids have a holiday from school this week. Though since the hell of preschool (about 365 days of all of us being sick), no one in my house seems to really get sick any more. A year of preschool apparently gives both kids and their parents, immunity of steel. But I don't want to jinx it either.

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Well, I did it! The closet is pretty complete - as of last night. I didn't even stay up late.

The thing is, it is full of cracked eggs so to speak. While the "cake is baking." Pictures will be later!

I have a pile for donation. It's not particularly large. Interestingly, the closet was already way more cleaned out than I expected.

I found 2 items that would probably take hours to go through. Some photos, and some arts and crafts. The progress I made was to donate the un-started crafting kits. Woohoo. The rest, I just couldn't look at. Another day or time. & I do remember distinctly going through ALL the pictures at one time or another. Let's face it, I have room to store a box of photos. So those are my 2 boxes of crap in my closet. Gotta leave something for later!

I got a pile of CDs for dh to sell for me. Giving away some frames, a lamp, some weights, and some gifts. I always felt obligated to keep gifts. I don't see the point any more. There is stuff that has been buried in my closet for years because I felt I had to keep it. Gifts that were not re-gifting material. That is very freeing, to let those go.

The interesting find was some 1st birthday party decorations from my eldest's first birthday, about 5 years ago? Some of it was donateable. The rest should have been trashed 5 years ago. That's a byproduct of my not wanting to throw things away. But thankfully, a rare byproduct.

In the end, the closet stores our: clothing, mementos/yearbooks, important records, 1 box of crafts, 1 box of photos, my wedding dress (which I plan to donate actually), piles of piano music, some frames, all our camping gear, some sports/workout gear, & pillows and blankets. I think that's about it?

I need to go through a couple of items with dh. We have a 100-disk CD player. I think he wanted to sell. I couldn't get it down myself - was on a top shelf. Dh has a secret stash of future gifts for the kids in there too. But I do need to run through with him on a few items.

I feel very proud and accomplished to harness any kind of simplicity. As with everything, simplicity is relative. Compared to just about anyone we know, we live very simple as far as accumulation of stuff. Even my kids know if they want a new toy they need to sell or donate an old one.

No doubt it is obvious from my pictures that we can achieve greater simplicity, though. I feel like it is a never-ending work in progress. But yes, I have spent many years trying to break free of my stuff. It sometimes doesn't show because my spouse likes stuff more than I care for. I think with age I personally just lean more towards "useful stuff."

I accumulated a lot of useless stuff in my younger years. So it's taken a while to plow through it all.
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Today's To Do List:

1 - Kohls - shop with my $10 "coupon"
2 - Groceries (just a few items, like, we are out of cereal and PEPSI!)
3 - Best Buy for recycle
4 - Crown books for a treat

5 - Vacuum closet/finish tidying up
6 - Arrange CDs (ones to keep)
7 - Wash bed sheets
8 - Clean up bedroom - dust/vacuum
9 - Clean Master Bath - make it sparkle
10 - Maybe start some carpet washing in the p.m. This can certainly wait
11 - Clean toilets - as everything else is getting so clean, I am noticing the toilets haven't been cleaned in a while

12 - Update Quicken / Look at Sep. expenses

DONATIONS - I am waiting for someone to offer to pick up everything. 'Tis the season - the stuff will be gone soon. We usually get plastic bags left on our doorstep every couple of weeks, with a request to set out donations. I just don't have one now, but probably don't need much patience before one will arrive.

Is that quite a To Do List? The funny thing is I absolutely hate tackling one big project. I have been procrastinating on the closet for ages, for one. But I thrive on a lot of little tasks. So I am excited to accomplish much today.

I also tend to be overly optimistic, so we will see! Big Grin

Tomorrow I am planning a relaxing day. I know I can tidy up the kitchen in a short time, before my parents arrive if they visit. & I know I have the rest of the working week to accomplish smaller tasks and to work on the carpets.

I think the house will be pretty immaculate when the boys come home. Too bad it won't last long. Wink It's more rewarding to clean with the "tornadoes" out of the house. That is for sure!!!

Closet Progress...

October 4th, 2009 at 05:56 pm

I am testing the limits of how many photos that SA will let me upload and store. Big Grin

I prefer to use my cell phone so I don't have to edit them down though.

Well, I am taking a break for dinner. My back hurts and this step took longer than I thought it would. Not sure why. Not sure why I didn't realize it would take so long. Big Grin This was just the "surface cleaning." What I really want to do is dig through everything in the closet, and do a round of freecycling, etc.

It shouldn't be too bad, I have been through the closet in more recent times. BUT, I find I often need a little bit of time to let things go. Maybe a few runs through the closet. So though it is manageable, I know I can toss more stuff!

Anyway, there's a floor!







I took all my clothes off the lower half of the closet. I've got 2 sides of the closet - dh gets one. Hell, I don't think he ever wears the clothes he has hanging up. Was from when he was working.

I am embarrassed at how many clothes I ended up donating. & what is with all the hangers?? A bag of hangers too. So yeah, 2 bags of clothes, and about a 1/2 bag full of plastic/cheapie hangers. I think these days the stores I shop are less stingy with hangers. All I Could figure.

I did go through all my clothes - those in drawers in my bedroom as well.

A lot of the stuff I haven't worn in MANY years. Thing is I swept through the closet a few times, pretty aggressively, in the last couple of years. But there was still a lot of pruning to do.

One example is a robe that I love and is fine. But it is bulky and I never wear it since I bought a new one (a cute monkey one, of course). Into the pile it went!

I got rid of a lot of stuff that was pretty worn out, that never really fit well, or that I really like but had shrunken, etc. I could maybe fit into them again, but it hardly seems worth keeping any more. I tossed a lot of low quality clothing. A LOT I have been finding I spend a lot less on clothes now that I focus on better quality. & don't get me wrong, I still primarily shop Kohls and places like that. I don't shop higher end stores. BUT, I will probably never buy adult clothes at Target again. Nor anything on those shelves of $10 clothing at Kohls/Mervyns. They just fall apart too quickly.

I have much better luck with clothing quality at Marshalls and Ross.

Now my clothes fit better and they don't shrink as much, etc., etc.

It's this realization that made me realize the crappy stuff will always be crappy. Time to let it go!

I also let go of some shoes. I guess their problem is discomfort. So I never wear them. But I might *need* them sometime. Old thinking, anyway. Some of those I have had for over a decade too.

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I found a good spot for my clothes drying hanger thingy-do. It's usually kind of in the way, but I found I could fit it just about against the wall, in the center of the back. I think that actually will work out pretty well.

Anyway, the entire left side of the closet is just dandy.

The middle/back has a few things on the shelves. Nothing much.

The whole right side of the closet is a nightmare. Lord knows what is over there.

We shall see! I'd love to at least get my trash/donate/sell piles by tonight. Sometimes while cleaning the house there is a whole messy stage in between. Anyway, my house is filling with bags, that is for sure. At least it is contained, and ready to be shipped out.

I'm probably optimistic, but will see.

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I didn't work "too hard." I got sucked into a movie while I was eating lunch. I had a fair amount of down time!

I am also thinking I am going to slow way down M/T/W. I was thinking of inviting my folks up because it would force me to scrub the gust bath and clean up the kitchen and living area a bit. Followed by a nice relaxing day anyway. So that might be a good strategy. Tomorrow I will at least have to leave the house so I don't go crazy.