40 Bags in – Well, Approaching 40 Bags.

The 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge got difficult about a week ago. Chuck and I kind of hit the wall. Part of that was schedule related. I had some long days and a lot of grading to do. Chuck was working some mandatory overtime, and he needed to carve out time to sleep somewhere in his 24 hour cycles. Excuses aside, we weren’t keeping up.

And then Chuck started the Piano Project. We’ve been looking at our antique baby grand piano, a lovely piece of furniture with many memories, just as lovely. No one in the home currently plays piano, unless it’s in the guise of helping Amigo learn his barbershop music. For that purpose, we bought a Yamaha electronic keyboard. It works well and takes up very little space.

The piano is now destined to be repurposed and upcycled. Can an object be both? This one can. Chuck is currently taking it apart, piece by piece, with a goal of creating bookshelves. As he’s working, we are storing all the pieces. This isn’t helping the de-junking project, but it is going to help create space in a big way.

What’s that keyboard doing on my fireplace mantel?

The felt hammers needed to rest in the living room. That’s Amigo’s Spark Plug award on the left, a white elephant gift in the middle, and a cactus on the right.

A cactus in a tuba. Every home should have one.

Meanwhile, Chuck is working diligently to loosen the strings and remove the sound board of this lovely instrument. I pulled out the dampers today and set them aside.

When the project is done, I’ll post a few “After” shots. I think you’ll like it, readers. Maybe you’ll even forget that I didn’t make it to 40 bags in 40 days. Instead, we attacked a major family project.

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40 Bags in 40 Days

Final Jeopardy Category was Religion. The answer read, “Famous Catholics who’ve publicly answered this question include Susan Boyle (sweets) & Paul Ryan (beer).” The question?

“What are you giving up for Lent?” Of course. Now if you’re not Catholic (I’m not), Lent might not be a time of personal sacrifice. In Wisconsin, Lent might be an opportunity to find the best Friday Fish Fries.

Let’s go a different angle on the “giving up” philosophy. I’ve been slowly and steadily de-junking and de-cluttering our home. My process is fairly simple. I keep an old, worn out laundry basket in my closet, and every time I find something to donate to a thrift store, it goes in the basket. When the basket is full, I take inventory and go to a donation site. The basket doesn’t come home, either – it was worn out or breaking apart, anyway.

I saw the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge and thought, “Sure, why not? This will speed up the process of what I’m already doing. Maybe my blogger and reader friends would like to join in, too.” So just in case you’re interested, here are the main links.

Here’s the basic explanation.

You can also like or follow her Facebook page.

Rather than throw out or donate a full bag each day, I’m either throwing something away, tossing a stack into the donation basket, or setting aside something for a potential summer garage sale. No matter what, the “something” will be significant. A tiny key ring or scarf will not be enough to qualify. Can the significance be emotional rather than size? Maybe. I’ll see how it goes.

I started today by sorting through a basket of linens I bought at an online estate auction. The napkins I’ll keep. The bandannas from various fundraisers will go in the donation basket. The basket itself will go out in the sale in June. The scarves? I don’t know yet. I might run them through the laundry and then decide if I’ll wear them, sell them, or send them off in the basket.

I’m not ending with a question for you, readers, not this time. I’m asking myself: can I make it? My prediction is yes. After all, I’m still making room for all the canning jars I bought a few months ago.

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Boycotts – to buy or not to buy?

Chuck’s new job (electrician, fire truck manufacturer) is turning out to be tough on his jeans and tee shirts. Luckily, he wears jeans and tee shirts, not anything more valuable or expensive. But I’m standing in the closet staring at two pair of good Lee relaxed fit jeans that are ripped in the rear, and I don’t sew.

I did what I do: I reached out for help online. My post said “DH (Darling Husband)’s new job is hard on his jeans. Do iron-on patches still exist? I don’t sew.” The responses were mixed, but positive. Sort of.

“Yes, you can buy iron-on patches at WalMart!” I don’t shop WalMart. I haven’t for years. In my state, WalMart encourages their employees to sign up for the state health plan for low income residents. It works because WalMart doesn’t pay enough for their typical worker to buy health insurance through the company, thus saving WalMart the investment in health coverage. Therefore, I’m already subsidizing WalMart through my tax moneys. Shop there? No, thanks. That company doesn’t deserve any more of my money.

“Try Joann Fabrics or Hobby Lobby.” Joann Fabrics, okay. They’re in the same mini mall with Penzey’s Spices, and I love me an opportunity to shop Penzey’s.

But Hobby Lobby?

Remember the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case? Hobby Lobby brought suit against the Affordable Care Act complaining that the company did not want to pay for coverage that included birth control. They claimed it was a faith-based decision. Let me get this straight: a nationwide corporation, claiming deeply, sincerely held religious beliefs, can apply those beliefs to its employee benefit programs. I haven’t shopped there since the decision.

That leaves me with Joann Fabrics. I certainly hope they actually carry iron-on patches. If not, keeping up my principles might get expensive. I might need to buy a sewing machine and learn to sew.

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Warm Weather Wonders

I didn’t grab a jacket or gloves as I left the house. The air was so refreshingly warm! But then I wondered – is this a February thaw, or is this due to global warming?

I planted seeds and put the containers under the grow lights. This much is typical for February. Then I wondered – could I actually put these outside for a few hours? And I thought, this is strange. Very strange.

We went to a neighborhood brewpub for supper and stumbled into live music. Fun! The place left their entrances wide open. When we left, we heard a scooter drive by – in February. And I wondered – is this the new normal?

The aroma of a wood fire was strong in our neighborhood. I know of at least four outdoor fireplaces or fire pits. If this keeps up, we might even start using ours. Oh, dear. Then I looked at the calendar and wondered – What kind of cause and effect relationship is going on here? This odd warming trend just isn’t right.

And that, my friends, is the way it is. We might be enjoying a short thaw and warming trend, but the overall climate changes are nothing to enjoy in the long run.

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Snow Day – Ice Day prep

We had an inkling that a day off might be in the works. Toward the end of the school day, we saw an email from downtown – the Powers That Be had cancelled all after school and evening events, and the morning wellness appointments had been rescheduled. I slid a little in the parking lot; the freezing rain had begun.

By the time I saw the announcement that our local schools would close the next day, I had already prepped for the possibility of power outages. Sometimes, the two go together. Ice, power outages, kind of like chocolate chips and cookies, Romeo and Juliet, or birds of a feather. It’s not a panic situation, but we’d rather not be forced to travel the slick roads in search of eggs or bread if the trip can be avoided.

Our pantry is pretty well stocked as a general rule. A quick stop for bunny food on the way home from work, and we can feed everyone under our roof.

Blankets: if the heat goes off, we’ll need to double up on blankets. We have plenty, and at any given time most are reasonably clean. Most.

Bean bag chairs. Just kidding – sort of. Amigo has several. Bean bag chairs plus blankets equal a cozy corner for relaxing and keeping warm.

Firewood: Bring in a good stack of dry or relatively dry wood. If the heat is off, we’ll huddle up in the den near the fireplace with bean bag chairs and blankets.

Charge everything that needs a charge. That’s probably the biggest challenge on the list. If I can’t plug anything in during or after a storm, I need to be ready to keep the major tools of life charged. To give you an idea, here’s a list.

  • Smart phones – three
  • Kindle
  • Laptop
  • FitBit (it keeps my vibrating alarm on time!)
  • Is that all? No, but those are the high priority items.

I don’t have a battery operated coffee maker. If we lived in a place where power outages were more common, I’d probably get one. A generator for the freezers would be useful, too. Our two chest freezers are full of vegetables from last summer and meat purchased on sale and a full stock of soup broths (haha). In a short outage, we just leave the freezers closed to maintain their temperatures.

So, folks, how did I spend my bonus day? Power stayed on. Heat stayed on. I relaxed on the couch, watched some HGTV and DIY (no news; after I had the closing confirmed, I didn’t want to see any more news), put a loaf of bread in the bread machine, cleaned a little, sipped my coffee, ran the dishwasher, and a whole batch of small chores. A day like this is a gift, when we’re prepared for it.

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Planting Season?

The Burpee seed catalog came a few days ago.

I decided to try an experiment I saw on Facebook.

These two are unrelated, unless you consider that fact that I am Daisy, the one who approaches new experiences and ideas with, “Hey, could I grow that?”

I haven’t opened the catalog yet, but it won’t be long. I might start with a quick inventory of seeds I already own. I reorganized my seed collection last August to make inventory easier.

The Facebook experiment came in the form of a short video. Lop off the base of a head of leafy lettuce, soak it in water for a week, and then plant it. Easy, right?

I cut off pieces from two kinds of bunny food:- romaine lettuce and green leaf lettuce. Each hunk of lettuce got dropped into a wide mouth canning jar with a few inches of water. Then, good gardener that I am, I waited. And I waited. I kept looking for roots to grow or signs of sending out shoots from the bottom. Nothing. I waited the seven days and a few more, and still saw nothing in the way of rooting material.

Chuck commented, “At least they’re not dead,” which prompted me to back off a little. Sure enough, he’d noticed new growth at the top of each lettuce head. I’d been looking at the bottom. I decided to try the next step: planting.

Small, but very green, this has potential.

I also planted a few green onions. The onions have root balls, but they’ve been sitting in the cold garage since late October. I don’t know if they’ll grow or not. With that in mind, I also planted a toothbrush.

A toothbrush?

Yes, people, I planted a toothbrush. While I monitor the scallions in the hopes that they’ll thaw and grow, I’ll also monitor a toothbrush. My sister-in-law passed it on to me, saying it was supposed to be biodegradable and would I please test it? Of course! I left a little bit sticking out so we can observe and evaluate the process. Heck, it works with tongue depressors and craft sticks.

And now, I wait. There’s a catalog to browse while I let the greens grow and the toothbrush decays.

Readers, do you plant indoors? Have you tried any of the lettuce experiments?

 

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Deal? Read the Tags. All the tags.

I’ve been considering putting a few lights in the backyard. I’m not talking about extending power to the garden patch, but just a few stakes with solar-powered lights in them. I would then be able to take out compost after dark without tripping.

I bought an inexpensive wind chime that had such a light in it, and the darn thing never worked. I guess I got what I paid for in that case.

When I saw the tiny (about 6 inches tall) canning jar facsimiles in a specialty store, I thought about getting a few.

Cute. Very cute.

I looked more closely. The adorable little mason jars with solar-powered lights inside were available at a cost of $8 each. Oh, my. That’s a little steep, considering I want several.

111Cuter up close.

Also prominently stamped on the tag: Made in China.

No, thanks. Maybe I can convince my engineer husband to rig something up using mason jars I already own. Chuck, what do you think?

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The O.K. Chorale: Where the Wrapping Remains Green

If you think I’m a green freak (Amigo does), you may be right. But if you think my attitude toward wrapping paper minimizes the colors in the pile under the tree, you’d be wrong. Oh, well, maybe this isn’t the best picture. It illustrates the “before” pile rather well, though.

Gifts and wrapping

In case you think I’m obsessive about it, and you’d be correct, take a look at the second pile. From left to right: recyclable cardboard boxes, broken down; reusable ribbons and wrapping paper; gift bags ready for re-use. The garbage pile was so small, I didn’t bother with getting it into the photo.

Rabbit imitating a tribble on the right

In fact, we forgot to buy tape this year. We were down to the very last role.

A little time organizing, and we’ll be all set for next year. There will be no need to buy wrapping paper. Tape, yes. But no more paper, right family? Right?!

Readers, I’d love to hear more ways to green the holiday season. Please share.

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