3-D print me some dinner, C-3PO

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Do you like to cook?  Generally, I don’t.

My hubby enjoys cooking breakfast (and chocolate cake).  Sausage, omelets, pancakes, French toast, eggs, toast, oatmeal, he’s good with all of it.

I’m too cranky in the morning to cook, it takes me awhile to get used to being awake again, I guess.  It’s not like I have to wake up early to a blaring alarm clock, either.  Mostly, I wake up whenever I want to – anytime between 6 to 8:30 am, but usually around 7’ish, I’d say.

I’m very skeptical when I read in some book that the hero pops up in the morning wide awake and ready to take on bad guys.

Mornings, I AM the bad guy.

So, cooking…

One morning, Christmas morning, I cooked a marvelous egg/hashbrown dish.  I thought it was marvelous.  My family hated it, HATED IT!  Turns out they don’t like onion, except in extreme moderation.

I didn’t realize just how similar (as in identical) sliced onions and hashbrowns can look.  All the kids saw was onion, onion everywhere in every possible bite.  So that was a go-down-in-flames-and-talk-about-it-forever cooking fiasco.

Crispy-Hash-browns-013

See what I mean?

Nowadays, when a recipe calls for onion, I make sure the slices are big so they can be picked out – and that they don’t look like another ingredient in the dish.  >sigh<

Back to cooking…

Every night around dinnertime, I’m astonished to find I have to cook dinner again.  Really?  Again?  How does that happen?

When I wasn’t working fulltime, it was easier to think of and plan for meals, and you could even almost say I enjoyed cooking back then, at least a little bit.  Now?  It’s mostly a chore I forget about every day.  EVERY day, every single stinkin’ day, I’ll look at the clock and see that its 6pm and I have no idea what’s for dinner.  Poop…no that’s not what’s for dinner, that’s what I’m thinking.

I used to have a bookshelf full of cookbooks.  I had this idea that one day I’d start channeling Martha Stewart and Julia Child and be able to read a recipe.

I am very bad with recipes.  I skip steps and forget ingredients.  My daughter-in-law, Andrea, reminds me to read the recipe all the way through before beginning and that does help, but this problem is why I can’t code.  Or sew.  Or do proofs for algebra.  Or tell jokes, for that matter.

The last time we moved, I tossed all the cookbooks except for my inherited Joy of Cooking, 5 Ingredient Cookbook and Cooking with Grits, which my sis-in-law gave me – I haven’t used it yet, but I will, I’m sure, cuz I love grits!  And there’s another cookbook in there that has a few recipes I’ve used but I can’t remember its name off the top of my head, Oh, I remember, its Betty Crocker.  Fun fact:  Betty Crocker has changed the image of their ‘Betty’ 8 times over the years, the most recent is a computer-generated composite of 75 women.   Betty Crocker portraits

Yeah, I gave away all those cookbooks – various church-lady cookbooks, Southern Cooking (which is wonderful), crockpot cooking, desserts, cooking with Campell’s soup, Cocktail recipes – about 20 of them, I guess.

cocktail

So refreshing!

If I need a recipe now, I’ll go online to find it.  Allrecipes.com, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Food Network, etc.

I also use recipes from Pinterest.  I have a secret board named ‘food’ and I’ll pin all the food ideas that I might actually try – simplicity is the prerequisite for me to even consider the recipe.

I baked a 2-ingredient cookie the other day for Superbowl Sunday.  Mashed bananas and oatmeal plus cinnamon or choco-chips, nuts, whatever.  Supposed to be super-healthy and low-cal, right?  They were HORRIBLE.  My sis and I each took a bite and spit it out, that’s how bad.  Tossed the rest of them right into the trash.

20150301_154714

How can these 3 ingredients combine to make something foul?

I’m going to make a cheesy Mexican enchilada dish tonight, which is to say I’ll make my version of that.

I’m really best at augmenting rather than cooking from scratch.  Cooking from scratch has too many opportunities for error.  Each step, every ingredient, every manipulation of those ingredients – whip until peaks keep their shape, cook on high until just before boiling(!), stir constantly, knead twice and roll out to desired thinness(!) – is simply another oops in the making.

Last night I took ready-made Italian sausage-stuffed tortellini and added sautéed mushrooms, onions (I love them, OK?) and grape tomatoes with pesto sauce (which was also ready-made).  It was delish!

I am good at meatloaf (except that I have to cook it twice as long as what the recipe says) and lasagna (except that I always double the recipe and always end up with exactly what I need for 1 pan – how can that be?).

Oh, and I make a pretty good sautéed corn dish, with cream and cream cheese and cayenne pepper.  Throw fresh or frozen sweet corn in the skillet with the cream and cream cheese and cook on medium til you have a nice thick sauce (add more cream if it’s too thick), then add pepper and cayenne to taste.  You can add other things, too, like tomato, celery, sweet peppers, garlic, whatever you want to add – maybe a little chopped up fresh spinach?

My hubby loves me and proves it by eating with enthusiasm and appreciation whatever concoction I place before him.

He loves me, but he picks out the onions 😉

Stocking your Man Cave for the Zombie Apocalypse

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I was asked by the people at Man Crates to envision a Man Cave for my man and write up a blog about it.   It’s the first time someone has asked me to do this so I was pretty enthusiastic about it.  Maybe by the time the 100th company has asked me to endorse their  brand of air freshener, I’ll be tired of it all but their website was fun and their gift ideas were pretty cool and unusual –  ManCrates – plus I am ALWAYS looking for unique products and gifts so I embraced the idea wholeheartedly!

You might wonder why the wife is designing the Cave for the husband—particularly since my husband is an Architect and very well versed in designing various and sundry rooms.

Well, I’ve lived with the guy for many a year and feel I have a bit of a clue as to what he might like.

So, I thought I’d give it a shot.  Here goes…oh, and the budget is the size of Hearst Castle, so let’s not scrimp on the cost, shall we…

First things first—a couch.  It just so happens that we are in the middle of a search for a couch right this very moment.  And having a darn good time of it, too.  And by ‘darn good time’ I mean exactly the opposite.  What he wants and what I want are practically at polar opposites.

This is what he wants, so he’s getting it now in his Man Cave!  Times two.

Theater seats

Theater seats

Secondly, a Man Cave needs a place to store the snack’ums and beverages.  Here is a beautiful antique pub back-bar where he can hoist a few with his buddies and sing bawdy pub songs ( well that’s what I’d be doing if I ever get my girlfriends down there!)

back bar

I’d also want a karaoke machine but somehow I think my husband would be vehemently opposed to such a thing…

Next comes lighting…gotta be able to read those car, boat and motorcycle magazines, right?  Rick’s into Art Deco so here’s a perfect antique ceiling fixture.

387_copper

Can’t forget the big-screen TV above the fireplace!

tv

The guys won’t be watching movies all the time—they’ll get tired of sitting on their duffs at some point, so here are some other ‘musts’ for the Man Cave.  Pool table, Foosball and pinball!

pool table

Walking-Dead-Pinball-200 foosball

On the walls will be pictures of places and things hubby loves.  Venice, sailing, Indian motorcycles, Art Deco design

Pan-Pacific_1956

The Pan-Pacific Theater was a marvelous example of Art Deco style

amanda-hall-a-gondola-on-a-canal-in-venice-unesco-world-heritage-site-veneto-italy-europe

Ah, Venice

authorized-indian-parts-and-service-tin-sign

Indian Motorcycles have such a graceful style to them.

sailing

Rick loves to sail

More important stuff for the walls—I hope there’s enough wall space for all this!  Well, we can always make the room bigger!

guitar

bass

And since a Man Cave might need to be defended from bad guys, we’ll add a rifle cabinet—a hidden one like this BUT no tacky knick-knacks!  OUR rifle cabinet will be hidden into the back of that gorgeous pub bar.  And it will hold important tools for defense such as an A-Salt-Rifle (kills insects with a burst of salt), an electrified tennis racket (for flying insects that got away from the A-Salt-Rifle), a pair of rubber band guns, a drone (for checking the outside perimeter from the safety of the Man Cave) and a pair of AirSoft pistols (for chasing squirrels and suchlike away from our fruit trees).

hidden rifle storage

asalt riflerubber band gun

drone

airsoft pistols

And we mustn’t forget Man Crate’s superb Zombie Annihilation Crate—it has all the tools any manly man might possibly need in order to survive the Zombie Apocalypse.  It includes a machete, combo axe/knife and a folding shovel, Zombie Survival Guide and LED flashlight, fire starter, the best invention of the world—Duct Tape, a first aid kit and Spam.  What more could any survivor need?  Well, this survivor would want toilet paper.  Just sayin’…

Zombie Annihilation

This superb gift arrives in a crate (Man Crate, get it?) that must be opened using a crowbar!  There are no ribbons to cut and no paper to carefully save for your dresser drawers.  A man, a crate and a crowbar.  Now that’s a gift for a MAN!

So that’s it, my manly man’s Man Cave.

What would your Man Cave look like 😉

Almost random thoughts on design

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The design process is one of give and take.  You want white, she wants cream, they want expansive, you want cozy, we want a great room and you want a formal dining room.

And during the design process, you will make many decisions – some tiny, some large – which lead to a finished product.  But someone looking at the finished design, whether it be a house or a fork, doesn’t have the perspective of all those decisions previously made.  The critique could be insightful but most of the time?  Its not helpful.

That said, here are some pictures and my humble thoughts on the design, heehee.

Take the picture at the top.  During the kitchen remodel, those posts either had to stay or a beam put up in their place – they are structural supports.  So, what can you do?  Why, make them interesting!  This is a good example of making the best of things.  Switching out to a support beam would have been much more destructive of the existing space and could have cost a pretty penny.

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Now, look at this picture.  Not a very exciting kitchen, but its OK.  Now find the red pan on the counter and scan upwards to the ceiling.  See the open beams?  What is that curly pipe?  WHAT?!?  That’s the sewer pipe under the toilet?  Ewww!   I’da camouflaged that, you can be sure!

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Here is a bathroom that has been squeezed into the attic space.  They removed the crawl space to get some head height.  Discussions about the sense of removing insulating value aside, this is a pretty imaginative solution to making tiny spaces work.  Look to the right and there are the shower heads.  No separate shower stall, there wasn’t room.  Nifty idea, I think!  If you’re worried about getting the toilet paper wet, there are holders available from boat supply places where the rolls are completely protected from water, yet easily accessible.

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In this tiny bathroom, a coat rack serves as towel and robe rack.  Great idea, but I’d be tripping over the wide angled legs all the time.  Better to have a rack with a flat round base.

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Are you starting to see a lot of undercounter curtains like this?  Reminiscent of Granny’s kitchen.  I don’t have an opinion about it, do you?  I DO have an opinion about the open racks above the sink.  It just looks messy.  And busy.  And dusty. 

 

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What with all the ‘no fire’ days this winter, we haven’t been able to use our fireplaces very much, have we.  This is a striking use of the space, don’t you think?  Simple, sleek and the shell reminds us of warm summer days to come.

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This is a lovely idea, too, although sticking the box out into the room is awkward.  I’m guessing they covered over the firebox opening to keep out drafts (or its a fake mantle).  Fill a box or basket with tiny white lights and pinecones or kindling and you’ve got a warm, lovely, warming ‘fire’.  OK, not so warm but definitely warming…

 

Oh, yeah, I must admit that most of the pics are from Houzz.  If you’re looking forward to a remodeling project or you’re just a lookiloo, its a fascinating trip into other people’s homes.  Inspiration abounds. Be warned, you can lose a lot of time wandering around this alternate reality -better set a timer so you come up for air 😉

 

Missing the ‘automatic’ in automatic sprinklers…

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Our automatic sprinklers were put in about 11 years ago.  After a few years we noticed that the system was cycling twice on the ‘on’ days.  We set and reset and reset the darn controller and experimented with various settings to no avail.

So we turned it off.

Now we manually turn on the valves and usually forget to do it, resulting in droopy, brownish plants – matching my thumb.

Up to now, I’ve been watering the back “yard” by hand.  I put the word in quotes because its mostly parking lot, since we live above our office.  But we have a 3’ strip all the way around it with roses and palm trees and roses and jasmine and roses and day lilies and roses.  I enjoy watering by hand, for the most part.  It’s nice being outside and the roses are gorgeous (except in February after they’ve been pruned to within an inch of their lives).

But I had a lot to do last Sunday and I’d been outdoors all day Saturday at a yard sale fundraiser and was feeling a little withered, so I turned on a valve and set the timer for 30 minutes – hey, it was in the 90s the day before so the plants needed extra refreshment.

The valves are set in a plastic porch-bench-storage thing we put there to protect them from people knocking into them.  We couldn’t figure out why the valves kept getting broken, turned out the waste collection guy was pulling the bins over them in the early morning darkness…

30 minutes later I turn off that valve and turn on another one and it frickin’ pops off in my hand!

Cr*p, did I break it?  Cr*pcr*pcr*p (although a different word might have slipped out at the time).

I cover the spray of water with my hand and look at the valve.  Thank heaven, I just unscrewed it too far, unscrewed it right off.

Trying to screw that darn thing back on proved absolutely impossible!  Picture me squatting next to the valves (actually, don’t), head drenched, holding the water and wires out of the way and trying to screw the head back on.  No, No, NO!  Total frustration!  Who designed these stupid things!!!

I have no idea how to get the water to turn off so I stomp away from the blankety-blank valves and try to think.  Yikes, the water spout is about 20 feet high!  I stomp back to the valves and slam the plastic bench cover down over it.  There!  That’ll teach it.

Not quite like this...but close!

Not quite like this…but close!

Phooey, I can’t leave it like that and I’ve very peeved that I can’t do this by myself.  I hate having to call for help.

However, no other inspiration comes to me so I call Rick (who is working on his sailboat up in a drydock in Napa (http://MyBudgetYacht.wordpress.com) …how do I shut off the blasted water so I can screw the valve head back on?  Oh, that’s right, there’s a shut-off valve hose bib at the front of the house.

 Now you can picture me kneeling in front of the hose bib, trying to push/pull the lever that hasn’t been touched in years!  I am determined that I can do this BY MYSELF!  I’ve turned into a 3 year-old.

I’m probably more careful than I need to be with the water valve but I really, really DON’T want to break off the pipe but it seems pretty flimsy as it rattles back and forth.

Success!  >whew<  Water is off and I head back to the sprinkler valve.  And, my, how easy that turned out to be.  Screwing on the valve handle is a no-brainer when you don’t have a hundred pounds of water pressure fighting you!

We really need to get a new controller and have some repair work done on the system.  The drip-line?  The drippy tips flipped off years ago and some of the little hoses flew off.  The drip-line hose itself has big holes in it and one of the sprinkler tops broke and the water burbles out instead of spraying.  Not only that but the sprinklers pop up out of the ground and do their thing, slowly but surely working their way off-center until they’re spraying into the street or the sidewalk.  Every few days we have to realign them!  Seriously, there has to be a better system than what we have (and there probably is but we were pretty cheap when we had it installed since we were doing the office renovation out-of-pocket and that’s probably the reason for the problems, right?)

 I guess I’ll have to call someone about fixing this.  I did talk to our mow-n-blow guy about it but sprinkler systems aren’t his specialty.  Well, in the famous and paraphrased words of Scarlett O’Hara “I’ll think about it tomorrow.”  Which is how deferred maintenance gets deferred 😉

Is it now or never?

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In the economic downturn, nay, the Great Recession, we almost lost our shirts. We were lucky to have sold our house just as the market was starting its crash but unlucky enough to be in the frickin’ middle of flipping a house (which makes it sound so frivolous, which it wasn’t – the house was fantastic!) when everything came to a screeching halt.

The brick wall we hit.

The brick wall we hit.

That fantastic house we were trying to flip sat on the market for about 6 months before a cash buyer walked in and stole it (aw, that’s not a fair way to describe it but she did get a superb house for the price!). Anyway, we didn’t get much for the house, certainly not the nest egg we were hoping for.

Pic of the house we flipped but didn't make a fortune on.

Pic of the house we flipped but on which no fortune was made.

Back to the crash… It was October and suddenly our clients were pulling their heads into their shells and contractors planning to build houses on spec disappeared. Business fell to about 25% of what it was. We held on as long as possible, tearfully laid off our two wonderful employees, Kim and Bre, and moved into the space above our office. It had a full (yet tiny) kitchen and bathroom, and 3 rooms, which we took as bedrooms and living room.

I’m glossing over the hell we went through during that time and I gained 20 lbs…

>sigh<

>sigh<

Oh, I forgot to mention that in the high point of our economic existence, we also bought a piece of property in the foothills with a marvelous view and were working to develop it. That process took so long – even with our expertise – that we no longer needed nor wanted a 4000sf house on 4 acres of land.   So we put it on the market and sold it.

OK, now we have a little money in the bank and we have been able to stay afloat in the sucky economy by selling everything we could: Goodbye Maserati, goodbye Indian and Harley motorcycles, goodbye 12′ trailer, goodbye Chickering piano, goodbye Victorian-era mantle that we hoped to one day install in our fancy custom home!

I really loved our road trips!

I really loved our road trips!

We stick our heads out of our cave, beginning to wonder if we can buy a house now that the economy is turning (BANG! January was busy!) and hit a wall.  Banks tell us we must have our 2012 taxes in hand before a bank can consider us for a home loan.

We wait until our taxes are done by our superb accountants at Abbott, Stringham and Lynch (great name, eh?)…watching as home prices climb up and up and up. Will we be priced out of the market by all-cash buyers? Flippers are backing away now that the easier pickings are gone (2012 was really their year). They’ve helped to bring the economy back up, so I can’t complain too much. Other cash buyers are people who want to own a home for themselves but have to ‘bid up’ the price in order to get one of the few homes that are for sale. They don’t care about appraisals, either.

I’m looking at homes listed for sale at around $400k and they are actually sold for $80,000 more than that!  Damn, I’m getting depressed.  Our max is around $520k.  Oh, yeah, we could buy in other neighborhoods where the prices are cheaper but then the commute is longer and/or the potential for rise in value is smaller.

And, here’s the thing:  The Great Recession lasted, what, 6 years?

We are looking ahead toward retirement.  Do we have time to flip another house before we retire?  Do we chance flipping now and buying our retirement house later?  Will we have energy for our retirement house later?  Will we even qualify for a loan on a retirement house later?  Why am I talking about a retirement house anyway?

We don’t have a primary residence, we live in an apartment above our office.  We can’t retire here.  Its a beautiful house, but its not senior citizen friendly.  Its a great investment property, for sure, but not a place to spend one’s twilight years.

We want a ‘go-to house’.  You know what I mean?  Our kids are going to be having kids and we want to have a place they want to go to.  Spending time with the grandparents won’t be fun in an apartment above an office with a 5000sf parking lot as a back yard.  So, looking toward the future, what are the best options?

Let's go to Grandma's house!

Let’s go to Grandma’s house!

Its a puzzle we are working on…and I’ll be keeping you in that loop 😉

My un-Bucket List

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 You know that movie ‘Bucket List?’  Where Jack Nickelson’s character has a life-threatening disease and he creates a list of things he wants to accomplish before he kicks the bucket, hence the name of the movie.

 There are even websites devoted to helping you create and move through the items on your bucket list, being encouraged and sharing your experiences.  Here’s one:  http://www.reaperlist.com/?gclid=CJa-gpXam6oCFQFUgwodGFwuxg  and here’s another one:  http://bucketlist.org/  There are many more!

 But, what do I call a list of things I want to STOP doing before I kick the bucket?

 My mom was telling me how she had improved her health (and lost a lot of weight) by making a list of things she needed to change and tackling them 1 at a time.

 She’s told me this before but, for some reason, it made an impression on me finally.  So, I’m sharing this with you.

It doesn’t have to be a big thing to make the list.

 My list includes making exercise a regular thing and cutting sugar from my coffee. 

 Rick and I bought bicycles and now ride 3x a week around the neighborhood or on local bike trails.  Any vacation (or business trip) involves hiking or biking or something that’s not just taking in the local museums and scenery.

Coyote Creek South

 Last week I used Splenda in my coffee instead of sugar.  I’d tried to do that before but it never lasted past 1 day – this time, I did it all week and it was no big deal.  Why Splenda?  Because that’s what Rick’s doctor recommended – he has Diabetes.

 What’s next on my list?  I don’t know, I didn’t expect Splenda to kick sugar so quickly!  I’ve been thinking about big things I need to change and I want to break them into smaller parts so I can actually succeed. 

 One thing I did do, actually before I began creating an opposite-of-bucket-list was curb my cursing…yeah, I’m a potty mouth.  I have been since 8th grade.  It’s not easy because sometimes those words are actually the most expressive in a given situation.  Saying ‘oh, dear’ all the time just doesn’t have the same cache’, you know?

 Back to my un-bucket list…

 Habits I need to break

–       laziness (gardening, filing, laundry, mending)  I was thinking about this post while I was watering the plants.  I emptied the watering can and still had a few plants to water.  I looked at them, thinking ‘can they last another day or so?’  WHILE I WAS THINKING ABOUT THIS POST, for cryin’ out loud!

–       snacking (stress-, depression-, happiness-, boredom-)

–       snarkiness.  If you can’t say something nice about someone, come sit next to me!  I’ve actually thought about creating a snarky anonymous blog where I could give in to my spiritual gift of sarcastic bitch.  But, Rick warns that it might not alleviate my sarcastic tendencies but will rather make me much better at it – and I’m already pretty darn good.

–       errand avoidance  – I hate grocery shopping, hate going to the dry cleaner, hate running by the bank.  I had parked in the lot for Nob Hill grocery store in order to retrieve a sign after an Open House the other day.  I looked up at the Nob Hill sign and remembered that I needed to buy milk.  That’s it, just milk.  I thought, no, maybe I can get by another day.  I’m actually IN the parking lot for Nob Hill and I’m trying to figure out a way to NOT go buy the milk.  Reason won out over avoidance and I bought the milk.  Then I’m driving home all proud of myself, like it’s a major accomplishment…

I hate being out of milk... http://www.morguefile.com

Those are the biggies.  Putting them in writing helps me develop the baby steps I need to tackle each one.

 Other things that can be on an un-bucket list:

–        deferred maintenance on your house.  Maybe some of those things are expensive to do (like repairing/replacing our historic house’ windows) but some of them probably aren’t, like fixing a porch step or replacing a window screen, fixing a leaky faucet.

–        thank-you notes.  A lost art, yet such a meaningful gesture.  You have 2 weeks from the time you receive a gift to write the thank you note – get to it.

–        turn signals on your car.  Yes, your car has them!

–        recycling – even if your town doesn’t have a convenient weekly pickup.  Find a local recycler and begin with SOMEthing – be it soda cans or water bottles or paper or aluminum.  Start small, but start.

 I know I can do the things on my turn-over-the-bucket-list because I was able to stop getting drunk back when I was in my mid-20s.  Although I still want to drink and do sometimes, I don’t make a habit of it – I say ‘no’  more often than I say ‘yes’.

 So, why is it so easy not to drink that Kahlua (last night and the night before) when I can’t turn down the pretzels? 

 I dunno.  But, I’m tackling it one thing at a time.  Join me 😉

The ‘good’ stuff

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Take a look around your house.  Now, take a real look…at the pictures on the walls, at the paint, at the rug, at your knick-knacks.  What did you see?  Does your house look tired?  Ignore messy, ignore dust (for the moment) and try to look beneath all of that to the actual items, themselves.

When we moved a couple years ago, we took down all the pictures on the walls and I took a close look at them for the first time in awhile.  I really looked at them.   I realized that my favorite Yosemite vintage poster replicas had faded substantially.  The colors that drew me in the first time I saw them weren’t there anymore.  

...not the same poster but you get the idea...

I have a quilt that I love and when I got out the pillow shams that I’ve rarely used and put them on the quilt, I discovered that the quilt was a shadow of its former self!  Terribly faded, I’m very sad to say.

Do you have things like this in your house?  Things that have seen better days but you haven’t gotten rid of them.  Perhaps that coffee mug was given to you by a friend, but its all chipped and scratched.  Possibly you have a sweater you wore on your first date with your wife and the moths have enjoyed it just as much as you have.

Is there a dead plant on your porch?  Is that ‘chandelier’ over your dining room table fake brass and frosted glass from 1975?  Do you have holey socks in your dresser?   Did you staple the straps together on your favorite pair of sandals (I did…).

On sale for $22 on Craigslist. Just let it go...

We need to free ourselves from these things.  Toss the holey socks – unless you plan on darning them!  I actually own one of those wooden dowel things that are used to darn socks…I don’t know quite what I thought I’d be doing with it.  Never used it.  But I still have it.

If you have a fake brass and frosted glass light fixture anywhere in your house, then here’s a website for you!  http://www.lampsplus.com  We’ve purchased many lamps from LampsPlus.  They have great sales and lamps in all styles.  You can visit a store near you but if they don’t have what you want you can order it online.  You can even order it online while you’re standing in the store if you’d like help from a salesrep in choosing the right lamp.

If you have pictures that look the worse for wear but you can’t bear to get rid of them, try putting them inside the door to the basement or behind a closet door or in the garage (my dad put some very fun posters up in the garage – he liked them but they didn’t go with the decor in the house – and, no, they weren’t calendar-girls from ABC Tool Supply!)

What about bathtowels?  I went to a relative’s house once and their towels were old, thin and very frayed along the edges.  So I bought them new towels for Christmas!  Next time I went to their house, there were the OLD towels…  Don’t save towels for special occasions.  Don’t save candles, either!

Years ago, Rick and I went to a unique house near where we live.  It looked like a castle – quirky- and overlooked a big creek.  It had been there since 1927.  They were having an open house, led by a tourguide.  The tourguide opened up the closets to show that the woman who used to live there had saved gift boxes (all nicely stacked) and tons of candles – she never burned them, put them all in the closet for a special occasion!  She died before that special occasion ever came around.  Two closets full of boxes and candles.  I’ll never forget that.  Candles are to be used!  Now, the house has been really fixed up and is available for vacation rentals.   http://www.howdencastle.com/

Howden Castle

And use the good china!  Use your wine glasses.  Don’t worry about breakage unless its your great-great-great-great-grandmothers china, then…maybe worry.  I think I have 7 of everything now.  I broke 2 things just this last week!  At least 1 thing breaks out of every set I have.  But, at least I use it.  I bought Corel dishes when my kids were little because, by golly, kids are greasy-fingered mess-makers!  Didn’t break a dish for 20 years, then I broke one.  What a nightmare that was!  Corel doesn’t break often but when it does break, it breaks into hundreds, no, MILLIONS of tiny little pieces sharp as needles!  Everywhere!  For days I was finding another piece or two.

If you are worried about replacing your dishes, then check out http://www.replacements.com/  They have a huge warehouse full of dishes of every style imaginable.  You can register the pattern(s) you have and they’ll send you an email about the inventory they have and special sales for your pattern(s) periodically.   If you don’t know the pattern, they’ll help you identify it.  If you are in their area, you can even visit their warehouse.  They are located in McLeansville, North Carolina.

I love Federal Glass.    I had one that was my grandmother’s and then, over the years, picked up a couple more items that I saw and liked – small dishes or bowls with starburst edging – and voila!  I had a collection without ever intending to…and I’m not asking for more of these, I just like having a few. 

pretty...

The other two patterns are these:  Palm Tree everyday dishes and some fabulous Starbust 1950’s dishes that were my parents’.  I only had a veggie serving bowl and a pitcher, then I discovered eBay and also found some dinner plates at a couple antique stores…they are darn expensive!  When I found out just how expensive, I put them away until we move to a place where I can display them safely.  Its not like me to collect something pricey!    These are very rare and I won’t be able to find replacements easily, nor cheaply.

I wish I could find a cheap replacement style of these...

Sorry, bit if a digression there…point is this:  Don’t wait for a rainy day.  Use the good stuff.  Enjoy it while you can.  AND when its usefulness is over, don’t mourn, don’t grieve, just be thankful to have good memories of it.   I know, its not easy.  Its hard for me, too.  But hoarding the good stuff is a little bit selfish, don’t you think?  And do you really want strangers looking at your pile of  good stuff and marveling at how you never used it?  Or, conversely, marveling at all the junk you accumulated because you couldn’t bear to get rid of it?

What’s in your house that you should get rid of?  Replace?  Fix?  Think of one thing and attack it with fervor!  Then…think of another thing….and another…and another…

We were at the house of someone who had a house in Carmel.  With all the dust, odd additions and cobwebs, it was a strange house.  In the bathroom was a collection of Avon perfume bottles – the kind people used to collect ages ago (does anyone still do that?  Is it a worthwhile hobby?) on  small knick-knack shelves.  Covered in dust…ugh…  Have you ever been to a restaurant with lots of stuff on the walls and on the ceiling?  Canoes, anchors, pedal cars, fake grapes, steering wheels, whatever.  I hate eating where there’s stuff hanging from the ceiling (other than lamps) because they are always so dusty, I just picture it falling into my food, blech.

If you have a collection of stuff you can’t be bothered to dust, then get rid of it.  Or, at the very least, put it in a cabinet that helps keep dust from accumulating!  A curio cabinet, maybe… 

only $500 on eBay! But you could find something cheaper, I'm sure!

This is garage sale weather!  Or have a trading party with your friends, a white elephant sale at church, donate the items to a worthy cause – maybe your local hospital has a neighborhood thrift shop.  We’re having a garage sale and donating the proceeds to a local family that could use the financial help. 

Sell stuff on eBay, Craigslist or even get rid of it in Freecycle   http://www.freecycle.org/  We donated some desks and cabinets to InnVision – an organization that provides support to people who are trying to get their lives back together after battling drugs and alcohol – that way.  

Take a look around your house 😉

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