Freebies — I Wonder If They Work

I recently found 2 little freebies: Auto Fresh Car Fragrance in Mango Mandarin and Reynolds Handivac Vacuum Food Storage system.

The car fragrance thingy clips onto the air vents in the car.

The car fragrance thingy clips onto the air vents in the car.

The first item was buried deep in our laundry room. It still had fragrance but it was totally dried out so I opened it and added some vanilla extract.

The original liquid was oily and the vanilla is not but it's worth a try.

The original liquid was oily and the vanilla is not but it’s worth a try.

I used it for a couple of days in my car but the scent was too strong for me.

Maybe this will help clear the air.

Maybe this will help clear the air.

Now it’s in Charlie’s car which could use a little freshness.

The other item, Handivac Vacuum Food Storage system, was on the free table at church and had never been opened.

Who has ever used one of these?

Who has ever used one of these?

I have been wanting to try a FoodSaver so I thought I’d see if this worked for us before we go to the bigger expense of a larger machine.

Now I need to buy some of these bags.  I think Charlie is going to love this thing.

Now I need to buy some of these bags. I think Charlie is going to love this thing.

I know I have to buy special plastic bags.  I’ll let you know how it works out.

Are you exercising your right to freebies?

The Final Contractor’s Bill and Livable Home Credit

In every project there are pluses and minuses in the cost of unforeseen circumstances. In an email from the contractor I received the following:

 Jo,
 
This is what I have as far as the extras and credits. Look it over when you get a chance and let me know if this sounds right or there are any discrepancies. I will be working a few minutes from your house for the next 3 weeks, so I will come by and get a check when it is convenient.
 
Credits
1- Demolition of porches by Charlie $1500.00
2- Two kitchen sink faucets which you purchased $350.00
3- Jackhammer $350.00 (Charlie gave me the receipt and you guys bought it for $417.00, let me know if that is fair)
5- Interior lights $300.00 (I originally figured recessed lights, instead most were pendants and this is the difference in price)
6- Broken light over sink ? (let me know what we owe you for this)
Total $2880.00 + broken light
 
Extras
1- Tile backsplash $2160.00 (I gave you a ballpark price of $2000.00, but with the epoxy grout, the labor was more)
6- Termite damage on both sides of band boards where additions met old house.$265.00
8- Door locks on exterior doors $260.00 (change patio doors to oil rubbed bronze)
10- Clean out tub drain in existing bathroom $100.00 (First Class Mechanical)
Total $5115.00
 
 
   Extras $5115.00
- Credits $2880.00
Balance $2235.00 – broken light
 The final tally with a credit for the broken light is that I owe our contractor $2135.  I’m going to try to recoup some of these costs by applying for a Livable Home Tax Credit.  The maximum is $2500 per year deducted from property taxes.
The conservatory  was planned with the expectation that it could become a first floor bedroom with an en suite totally accessible bathroom

The conservatory was planned with the expectation that it could become a first floor bedroom with an en suite totally accessible bathroom

The Livable Home Tax Credit is a measure that allows people to age in place which has been our plan from the very beginning.  The credit can be used for :

  • Occupant with disability
  • Aging occupant
  • Frequent aging visitor
  • Frequent visitor with disability
  • Increased sales appeal
  • Planning for future needs

We have at least 3 of these highlighted above in green. Features that may qualify for the credit include widening doorways, removing barriers, adding safety features, and creating livable spaces on a single floor.

The opening between the kitchen and dining room exceeds the standard for an ADA doorway.

The opening between the kitchen and dining room exceeds the standard for an ADA doorway.

So I have collected all the paperwork — application, certification, building permit, receipts — and am hoping to recoup $2500 worth of costs.  As we continue to make improvements we can apply each year provided a permit is pulled for the work and the amount exceeds $500. I plan to become a professional tax credit application specialist.

Are you taking advantage of every credit? Do you hate paperwork? Compliance?

I’m Taking Credit for It – White Bean and Chocolate Chicken Chili

My friend is having a soup swap and if there’s one thing I know it’s to make the soup well in advance so it has sufficient time to completely freeze. (Almost frozen doesn’t make it, my friends.)

Six new washed and ready quart-size containers with screw-on lids.

Six new washed and ready quart-size containers with screw-on lids.

I decided to take a new tack and instead of creating my tried-and-true soup-swap soup I’m going to create a new recipe especially for the crowd attending. I made a good chicken stock  and cooled it in the refrigerator before assembling the soup.

Pan drippings reducing on the left -- stock pot ready for action on the right.

Pan drippings reducing on the left — stock pot ready for action on the right.

In a clean 8-quart stock pot I added diced bell peppers to my mirepoix and sautéed it in chicken fat skimmed from the broth.

Mirepoix - fine dice of onion, carrot, and celery. I added the weird pepper from our garden, too.

Mirepoix – fine dice of onion, carrot, and celery. I added the weird pepper from our garden, too.

The mirepoix is sautéing in schmaltz.

Mirepoix sautéing in schmaltz skimmed from the cooled stock.

I thickened the roux with a tablespoon of flour, a tablespoon of tomato paste, and 2 tablespoons of cocoa and sautéed until brown and aromatic .

Cocoa, tomato paste, and flour make a good tasting roux with chicken fat.

Cocoa, tomato paste, and flour make a good tasting roux with chicken fat.

Then I added warm stock, about half of a can of crushed Roma tomatoes I had pureed with 3 teaspoons of sugar, a tablespoon of chili powder and some sea salt (to taste).

I let this simmer on low for about an hour.

I let this simmer on low for about an hour.

When everything tasted really good to me I added 3 cans of cannellini beans and the chicken with skin and bones removed left over from the stock.  Thinking I wasn’t quite finished I added a can of creamed corn, another tablespoon of chili powder, and  some chopped parsley.

I made 6-perfect quarts minus one bowl. Yum.

I made 6-perfect quarts minus one bowl. Yum.

After dividing the white bean and chocolate chicken chili into six – 1 quart containers I added a generous spoonful of the reduced pan drippings to each jar. I know, gilding the lily.

After cooling for a night in the refrigerator I twisted the lids on tight and put the containers of soup in the freezer where they will remain until the soup swap.

After cooling for a night in the refrigerator I twisted the lids on tight and put the containers of soup in the freezer where they will remain until the soup swap.

Can’t wait to replace my one-of-a-kind soup with six unique varieties at the swap.

What kind of creativity are you taking credit for?

Decluttering the Bedroom

Our house is still torn apart except for a few rooms.  The bed has not yet been set up in the master bedroom so we’re still using the back bedroom so I’ll attack what I can in the 30 Day Decluttering Challenge.

The bedroom tasks include:

Day 5: Nightstand
Nightstands collect books, water bottles and electronics along with gobs of dust. Clear it off, wipe it down and leave only the bare minimum.

We've been sliding this bookshelf all over the second floor.

We’ve been sliding this bookshelf all over the second floor. Now I’m using it as a nightstand.

I’m just going to give you a before and after of the nightstand because it was a relatively easy project.

Before on the left and after on the right.

Before on the left and after on the right.

Day 6: Dresser 
Dressers can hide a lot in their drawers.

My dresser is the front one in the picture that I'm clearly using as a dust rag rack. Erggggh.

My dresser is the front one in the picture that I’m clearly using as a dust rag rack. Erggggh.

I opened every drawer and refolded messy clothes and even discarded a few items.

The top drawer is dedicated to scarves, hankies, and ladies gloves. I did what I could to organize them.

The top drawer is dedicated to scarves, hankies, and ladies gloves. I did what I could to organize them.

I was able to empty the bottom drawer and use it as a temporary linen closet for the master bedroom.

I did so much straightening I freed the bottom drawer for 4 king size sheet sets until the linen closet is built.

I did so much straightening I freed the bottom drawer for 4 king size sheet sets until the linen closet is built.

Day 7: Master Closet
Cleaning the master closet task means going through and tossing outdated and unworn clothing . Try not to let sentimentality get in the way of decluttering!

My closet in the Treetops room is stuffed to the gills but in good shape.  Our master closet is not finished yet.

My closet in the Treetops room is stuffed to the gills but in good shape. Our master closet is not finished yet.

I’ve been using a closet in the back bedroom so I decided to start on one of the floordrobe piles that were created when our master bedroom closets were removed.

Honestly -- how does it get like this.  See the improvement below from the same viewpoint.

Honestly — how does it get like this. See the improvement below from the same viewpoint.

We have plans for a fabulous new closet but until that time there’s really no place to put our clothes thus the piles on the floor.

This is the progress I made in here meanwhile clothes are in piles everywhere else.  It's a start.

This is the progress I made in here meanwhile clothes are in piles everywhere else. It’s a start.

Although I really did try I was a total failure at this particular task.

I’m not even halfway there. Sheesh!

What are working on?

I Jumped on the Bandwagon a Little Late

Once again I can’t remember where I read it but apparently the trend of chalkboard writing is “so last year”.  Too bad because I just thought of something I wanted to write.

A beautiful refurbished frame.

A beautiful refurbished frame.

Two years ago I refurbished the gold leaf frame above but I didn’t have anything to put in it and I’m not just going to hang it up empty.

I like this frame so much I used it at the center of the gallery wall in the hall from the mudroom to the kitchen.

I like this frame so much I used it at the center of the gallery wall in the hall from the mudroom to the kitchen.

So I thought I should put a chalkboard in it until a better solution came along.

The beginning of a poem by Arthur O'Shaughnessy.

A practice sketch of the beginning of a poem by Arthur O’Shaughnessy.

I picked the opening lines of a poem by Arthur O’Shaughnessy:

Ode from his book Music and Moonlight (1874):

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties,
we build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story,
we fashion an empire’s glory.
One man, with a dream, at pleasure
can go forth and conquer a crown.
And three, with a new song’s measure
can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying,
in the buried past of the Earth,
built Nineveh with our sighing
and Babel itself with our mirth.
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
to the old of the New World’s worth.
For each age is a dream that is dying,
or one that is coming to birth.

I practiced the lettering on paper then tried it freehand on my makeshift chalkboard.

My chalkboard

My chalkboard

If a piece of real art that fits this frame comes along one day I’ll probably switch it out.

We're getting the gallery wall fleshed out at the same time.

We’re getting the gallery wall fleshed out at the same time.

But for now, I like it.

Do you have a favorite saying?

I Had to See It in Person

I discovered by reading someone’s blog (wish I could remember whose) that World Market is having a rug sale.  My dining room needs a rug.

The runner in the dining room is just temporary.

The runner in the dining room is just temporary.

I hopped right on their site to see if anything caught my eye and three items did. First the Kari Inspired Jute area rug — looks like old denim.  I wanted to see it in person and it’s out of stock online. I called the store to see if they had any in stock but, unfortunately, I had written down the names of the rugs and the store personnel needed a skew number.

This rug was very thin so I wouldn't want it in a high traffic area.

This rug was very thin so I wouldn’t want it in a high traffic area.

I decided to take my chance and drive 40 minutes to our nearest World Market to see it and maybe buy it.

Those are my fabric swatches on the rug -- they have little in common.

Those are my fabric swatches on the rug — they have little in common.

Not exactly what I had in mind and it didn’t really go with my fabrics and it was too small for the dining room. But for anyone interested they did have a few in stock.

The next rug came in 2 different colors and in a 9 by 12 size which it the size I need.

The dark blue hemp rug really is more of a dark charcoal grey.

The dark blue hemp rug really is more of a dark charcoal grey.

The blue grey Venora is more brown but went well with my fabric swatch.

The blue grey Venora is more brown but went well with my fabric swatch.

While I could see smaller versions of the rug at the store it really helped me decide the color.

The dark blue rug hanging. It's tricky to pick a rug that is hanging since it looks so different on the floor.

The dark blue rug hanging looks like the blue grey rug in the photos above. It’s tricky to pick a rug that is hanging since it looks so different on the floor.

Not the same in person.

It turns out this brownish rug which is called "blue gray" goes great with my fabrics.

It turns out this brownish rug which is called “blue grey” goes great with my fabrics.

The price was good and there would be free shipping except World Market was charging a $25 overweight fee. Wahhh?

Had I wanted a smaller rug World Market had a pretty good selection.

Had I wanted a smaller rug World Market had a pretty good selection.

Maybe I don’t want it that much.

I love this rug and it comes in a 9'-3" by 12'-6" size -- that would be perfect.

I love this rug and it comes in a 9′-3″ by 12′-6″ size — that would be perfect.

Finally I really like the light blue stained glass rug.  Even on sale it’s fairly expensive and has the same upcharge as the hemp rugs.

I was hoping this rug was it but when I looked back at the computer shot I realized it wasn't even close.

I was hoping this rug was it but when I looked back at the computer shot I realized it wasn’t even close.

Unfortunately WM didn’t have any size of The Stained Glass rug in the store so I thought it was a bit risky especially when I read a review that said it’s much lighter than the photo on the web. Then I saw this post by Steph at You Paid More Than Me where she compared the Preston rug to the Stained Glass Rug.

The Preston looks great and costs less but doesn't come it the 9 by 12 size.  Grrrr.

The Preston looks great and costs less but doesn’t come it the 9 by 12 size. Grrrr.

So I just walked away.

Do you get frustrated with surcharges and upcharges and fees and . . .?

Window Washing on Another Network

I’m hardly ever actually pictured in this blog: my blog and I take the pictures. Charlie is often the brunt of my photographic skills.

How hilarious is it that Charlie borrowed my tie-dye glasses to work on the details?

How hilarious is it that Charlie borrowed my tie-dye glasses to work on the details of a window?

But earlier this week I was contacted by HouseLogic.com because they wanted to use a photo of me washing windows.

Brush the dishwasher detergent and water mixture on the windows

Brush the dishwasher detergent and water mixture on the windows

I signed a release and here I am. Charlie actually took this picture.

Is this my better side, Mr. DeMille?

Is this my better side, Mr. DeMille?

The website that borrowed it flipped it. Maybe that’s my better side.

The windows in the laundry are in desperate need of washing. Let me get right on that.

The windows in the laundry are in desperate need of washing. Let me get right on that.

Thanks for the reminder that my windows really need cleaning, she said facetiously.

What fall chores are you totally not up for?