Dec 31, 2009

Avoiding the Draft

My New Year's resolution for 2010 will be to stop throwing money out the window. And since I like a good head start, I weatherstripped our windows.

Here's what you'll need and how to do it, if you're lucky enough to have ancient windows like me:

Rubbing alcohol, paper towel (or a rag), tape measure, scissors, weatherstrip (appropriate width for your window)

First, open up your window and clean your cracks (or tracks, jambs if you take offense and want to be technical) with rubbing alcohol and paper towel. This will clean up greasy stuff, and general debris. Let it dry (which won't take long).

Then measure the crack-track-jamb and cut weatherstrip to length.

Then remove the adhesive strip and stick inside the area you just measured.

Close your window tightly, and you're done. If you have side sliding windows (or doors), do it on the sides. If you have regular up-down windows, do it on the top and bottom.

I should have done this a year ago, but we thought we were going to replace all our windows. Which is also why we didn't bother doing a decent job painting around the windows. Just ignore that :)

Do you have old original windows in your home? Is your place drafty? Are new windows crazy expensive like I think they will be (none of ours are standard sizes)? Do you have any resolutions for the new year that you can't wait to get started on?

Dec 30, 2009

Chicken Out and Veg Out

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

  • Chicken (any part will do, I like thighs)
  • Vegetables (any kind you like, I like potatoes, asparagus, red onion, baby carrot)
  • Olive oil
Preheat oven to somewhere between 400-450 degrees. Pour some olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish to coat it. Then put chicken and swirl it around to coat it. Do the same with the vegetables in a separate dish. Add the dish with the chicken to the oven first, then add the veggie dish in about 20 min later. Roast about 40 minutes or so. You can make some rice or enjoy as is. Easy peasy (wait there were no peas, so is that easy asparagusy?)!

Dec 29, 2009

Not Junk in Your Trunk

I'm a slight grease monkey, I enjoy working on cars and in the garage. It's just like house stuff but with cars, right?

Recently, I posted a tutorial series on replacing your own rotors in your car (part 1, 2, 3), and showed how I keep mine looking purdy as well. But here's something important and ridiculously easy that you could (and should) go out and do right now if not already!

Make sure you have a spare tire in your trunk. And be sure it's not flat!

Keep tools to change your flat tire, with your flat tire (in the pouch at far left). With them I also keep bungee cables and rope, and a pair of jumper cables (in the black case at right).

Here's a better look at said tools (jack, wrench)

Fluids (left to right): antifreeze (also known as coolant), motor oil, transmission oil

Some people keep windshield washer fluid in their trunk. I choose not to, since it just rolls around and isn't imperative. I also find blankets and water and flares a little unnecessary for my needs.

Do you keep extra car fluids in your trunk already?

Dec 28, 2009

Fancy-Pants Living

The holiday season is a time for splurging and living the life. It's a time of using your good dishes (or in my case, just matching dishes), buying good wines, and no limits for calorie consumption. It's fancy living to the fullest!

But why should treating yourself to some finer things in life be limited to the holiday season? [insert big shrug here] Here are a few small ways I keep on living fancy year round:

Snip some fresh flowers or greenery from the garden. Free and fancy!

Use cloth napkins. Could be free if you made them yourself using scrap fabric. And definitely will save you money in the long run. Definitely green! And fancy!

Keep a bowl of fresh fruit. It's nutritious. It adds color to your home. And becomes an instant centerpiece. You can look at it and then eat it. What's not to like?

Snag a lemon from said fruit bowl and put a slice in your water. Instant fancy!

Got any more fancy living tips that anyone can achieve?

Dec 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays everyone!

Dec 24, 2009

Decking Halls

The holiday season crept up on us. Usually we have a plan - foods we want to make, cards mailed out well in advance, some obligatory gifts bought or made, and travel plans nailed. But this year, there will be no travel, no out of town visitors, no original holiday music created, and maybe only a few baked treats.

We even got an early start with warm festive drinks, and even putting up not 1 but 2 holiday trees the day after Thanksgiving. But somehow hosting a baby shower, attending a wedding, performing on stage at a company holiday party (the bf, not me), movie night, theme park, an unexpected home project, and being sick twice didn't help.

This is what we've managed. And at this point, it's not worth it to go any further, right?

Stockings for each human and each canine (although they are empty)

Candy cane ornaments hung from the chandelier

Tinsel garland wrapped along the banisters

Yet even more (a lot more) stockings strung up on a tension curtain rod hung in our pass through

Holiday cards sitting on the ledge of the pass through below the multitude of stockings

Also on the pass through ledge, a Christmas Tree scented candle because our artificial trees have none, alongside some glass tea light holders (received as a gift a few years ago)

And some surprise gifts from beloved (and slightly stubborn) family

The gift on the left is not from me, but wrapped by me - yep it's wrapped in comics. And the white box on the bottom right is still in it's shipping box because if I know my parents well enough, the gift itself is not wrapped (wrapping would add to additional shipping weight, duh).

I welcome any easy or thrifty holiday decor ideas you may have.
Next year we'll do better...

Dec 23, 2009

Xmas 2

I already posted about our little artificial apartment tree, but we have a full size semi-real looking artificial tree as well :

It's not all fancy and department store display worthy. But I somehow like the simplicity of it and how you can see more tree than decorations. It has almost all the essentials: garland, candy canes, tree skirt, some sentimental ornaments and a couple of gifts. One year I was a little fancy and found some Christmas crackers at a steal. Although we are technically missing a topper, I don't really think it needs it. The small tree doesn't have one either.

This is actually the first time we have gifts under this tree (granted it's only the second year we've had it), we usually request no gifts from friends and family. As you can see, some are a bit stubborn :)

How about your tree? What's the decoration to tree ratio? Topper or naked? Candy canes or none?

Dec 22, 2009

Merry T-Day

If you pass our house right now, this is what it looks like:

Looks normal? Maybe you need a closer look:

This sort of just happened. What in the world are we up to?

ps. sorry dear waste collector...

Dec 21, 2009

See in New Night Light

Today is the shortest day of the year. That means it is the darkest day of the year (technically, not metaphorically). So naturally, I think about nighttime lighting in the bathroom. Don't you?

None of our 3 bathrooms have natural lighting due to a lack of windows. So I put nightlights in each of them, big deal right? Here are the ones I got:
Image from Home Depot

I figured since they lighted the bathroom enough that they'd be fine. And they are. But then I discovered my anal retentiveness in regards to my night-lighting needs and these no longer fit the bill (since I opened them, I couldn't return them. So I gave them away to a friend who did like them). Shall I list my very specific lighting needs?
  1. Must be incandescent or energy-saving LED (I'm not willing to have this tiny thing be an energy waster)
  2. Must have an automatic sensor (who's seriously going to turn this thing on each night?)
  3. Must have a small footprint (I don't want it to interfere with the second outlet)
  4. Must point light downward as not be harsh on the eyes (who wants to be blinded during a mid-night potty break?)
  5. Must be decent looking (these are going to be a fixture in all 3 bathrooms)
  6. Must be under $5 each (because I have 3 bathrooms. And better things to spend money on)
So this became a mission. And surprisingly hard to accomplish. There was no selection in any of the hardware stores (and I went to several). And here's the best I could find online (in order of preference):

Image found here

This one is very close to being perfect. It lays pretty flat against the wall, occupies 1 electrical outlet, under $5, and shines down, however it also shines up.

Image found here

This fulfills all my requirements but it sticks too far out from the wall.

Image found here

This one fulfills all but 1 requirement and at the same time has a bonus. I really like the little clock, that's pretty convenient. But that clock runs on a battery which will require replacing at some point, and I'm sure it won't be easy to find. And I don't want to deal with looking at a clock that's not running. And then I'll always think of the night light as only half working. And it's also expensive!

Since my best online findings were a big failure, are you wondering what I did to deal with my nocturnal loo lighting?

Well I actually found some decent ones at Wal-Mart, of all places. Although they do not perform any bonus functions, and aren't the most gorgeous lighting contraptions available, they didn't break the bank and I could finally be done with this ridiculous mission I created for myself.

Have you been overly picky for something rather insignificant? Given a higher priority for something most would consider barely a priority at all? Am I on crazy pills again?

Dec 20, 2009

In Cider Job

When it's cold out, and it's the holiday season, and you're home - it's the time for some hot, spiced cider (it's how we kick started Thanksgiving)!

Hot, Spiced, Apple Cider

  • Apple cider (not juice!)
  • Cinnamon sticks (not ground!)
  • Orange peels or lemon peels or both (dried, but never tried fresh, wonder how that would be?)
  • Cloves (not ground!)
Break cinnamon sticks in half or thirds so they fit inside a mesh tea strainer ball thing. Put everything (except cider, duh) into the mesh tea strainer and place inside a slow cooker (aka crock pot). Add cider. Turn on hot if you want it heated relatively quick or keep on low. Once it's hot enough, you can keep it on warm and enjoy it all day.

You can also buy pre-packaged spices that you add to the cider:

And if you can't find cider, you can get flavored tea (but this will be a watery version):

It's good in the morning, during the day, and at night*, whenever it's cold out and you're feeling festive!

*especially with a bit of rum

Do you have simple and fun recipes or food traditions for the holidays?

Dec 18, 2009

Xmas 1

We didn't have room in our apartment for a full size holiday tree. So we got a mini one. And I figured if I were getting a mini one, it might as well be full on fake looking:

With the lights on, illuminating the white branches, it casts a nice glow:

Do you have an artificial tree? And if so, what color?

Dec 17, 2009

Over the Counter

For me, counter space is always rare and at a premium. Whatever is kept out on the counter must be pretty crucial to have such valuable real estate. So I like to see what other people keep on their counters, it's like peeking into their purse (or wallet).

Things people leave out on the counters include oil and vinegar, cereal, flour, sugar, coffee, tea, etc. So here, let me offer you a look at mine:

Left to right: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, pepper mill, infused olive oils solely for looks

Ceramic bowl with lid with garlic, onion, ginger, potatoes

Left to right: walnuts, brown rice, white rice, pasta

What does it say about me? That I'm on the Atkins diet? Or that I should be? Maybe I should empty everything in those canisters and do this? What do you guys keep out on your counters?

Dec 16, 2009

A Butt of Fluff

A while back before I painted these tables, I discovered a mysterious chunk of fluff stuck to them:

Upon closer inspection, I recognized it as Rylie's tail hair:

Is this another form of natural occurrence in a dog household? Or was she threatened by this post? Is it normal to find chunks of dog fur in strange crevices?

Dec 15, 2009

Cool as a Cucumber Salad

Cucumber salad

  • Cucumber
  • Red onion
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Peel and slice cucumber (if using Persian or English cukes, skip the peeling part) and toss into bowl
  2. Chop or thinly slice red onion, and add to same bowl as cukes
  3. Drizzle with olive oil
  4. Drizzle with red wine vinegar
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  6. Eat and enjoy!*

    *if you plan to eat this later, prepare cukes and onion first, then season with salt and pepper and cover and refrigerate without the oil and vinegar. When ready to eat, uncover, dump out extra water that has come out of the cucumbers being salted, and add the oil and vinegar. Everything will be a little softer so you may prefer this method. I prefer crunchy so I eat right away.
I love recipes that require no measuring and produce yumminess! If you have any to share, I want to know!

Dec 14, 2009

Mow Down

I don't get this ad, do you?

Did their cleaner "clean" the dog so well it bleached it's fur? Then how is it eco-friendly?
Or is the dog so dirty that they cleaned it?
Or is their cleaning so powerful it sucked the fur off?

Does anyone get this?

Dec 11, 2009

No Skid Ro-tor (Part 3)

9. Reinsert cleaned (or new if you are replacing those as well) brake pads into the caliper
(there are 2 clips holding the brake pads, use a flat head screw driver to help get them in)

10. Reinsert caliper onto rotor so each brake pad flanks the rotor, and resecure bolt back into place behind the rotor and tighten with socket and socket wrench

11. Put wheel back on wheel bolts and screw lug nuts back on and tighten

12. Lower car back onto the ground and remove jack - you're almost done!

13. Set your torque wrench to recommended torque specs
(I set mine to 72 pounds)

14. Tighten each nut with one click* (and only one click, if you do it twice you are using twice the torque, ie. in my case it would have been 72 lbs x 2 clicks = 144 lbs).

*with my particular torque wrench, when releasing it makes a quiet click which could be confusing and alarming. Just pay attention to what you are doing and you'll be fine

15. Repeat all this with the other side. You should always replace all brake pads and rotors at the same time to keep even wear.

16. With engine still off, pump the brake pedal to set brake pads against the rotors

16. Disengage the emergency brake, turn on engine and take the car for a drive around the block. Roll your windows down and keep your radio off so you can hear any noises. You should hear nothing.

Silence is golden. Especially when it saves you about a hundred bucks.