April showers bring May flowers. Or so the saying goes.
And yet, we awoke to the first day of April to snow, which got worse as the week progressed and we ended up with a pretty significant quantity of snow. And it got COLD, going down to below zero at night. My electric bill alone is insane. I don't want to know what my gas bill is going to be like next month. Bright side, Monday rolled around and suddenly the temperatures started to go up around here. By next week we have one day that is even calling for it to be in the 60s! I am thrilled as honestly I'm so over winter at this point and just want Break Up to officially be here. We went out sledding over the weekend when I realized that we finally had enough snow, it hadn't blown away and we were looking at it melting this week and the kids had a lot of fun, especially the daughter. This week the kids are getting a kick out of playing outside and running around on the bare patches of ground where the snow has melted off. Crazy weather.
It has been, once again, hectic around here. First there was the drama around my tooth. I got my permanent cap on around three weeks ago and while the temporary cap was just fine, the permanent one has been giving me grief from the moment I got it on. Hot liquid especially would make me jump in pain and it seemed like it was getting worse. So, I ended up back at the dentist a few weeks ago trying to figure out if I needed a root canal or what. The dentist, after various tests, assured me my roots on the X-ray looked fine and what he thought was going on was that when they were messing around putting the permanent cap on they had scraped away all of the material that I had protecting my weak enamel on my tooth (I've always had weak enamel) and I was basically dealing with an overly exposed nerve because my tooth was over sensitive. They painted on a de-sensitizing agent onto my tooth to help it to start to heal and told me to start using Sensadyne toothpaste. It has helped, but the stuff they painted on my tooth wore off as of yesterday, so I'm in pain again on and off. Bright side, hot liquids aren't lighting me up as badly as they were, but now cold sensations, especially sucking cold air, does not feel pleasant, we'll just say that. Between that and still battling the after effects of being sick...I have been better.
The husband ended up back at the doctors, this time for his neck giving him grief and he was diagnosed with tension headaches and is on a mild muscle relaxant as needed. It does seem to help him, so I'm glad of that anyway.
But, yeah, it has been a bit of a challenge around here.
Despite it all, though, I HAVE been getting stuff done around here. Actually, some of it is kind of neat, so let's get to that.
I originally planned to put this in a Frugal Friday Recap, but we've been up to so much around here and it just gets busier, that the post would be about 20 pages long, so I figured I'd show you guys some of the things we've been doing around the house as we wait for the weather to finally show us Spring.
Despite the fact that there is still snow outside, the light continues to come back around here, so I've really gotten into Spring cleaning and organizing the house...like happens every year, but this year it does seem to be a super potent need for me...probably because we have been in the house for basically a year and so everything just starts to get to you after a while.
First, let's start with the living room. I got tired of the living room as there always seemed to not be enough room for all four of us to sit comfortably and it seemed like the daughter was always taking refuge back in her room and not wanting to sit and watch a movie as she always seemed to move to the floor to watch something. So, I decided that the den is going to become a activity room for things that are more PE related (I'll get more into that later) and I would move the chairs that were in the den to the living room so we could use the additional seating. Turns out the son LOVES the grey chairs and pretty much takes them up himself, but everyone else doesn't mind as we can sit elsewhere.
I have been working hard at accumulating credit card rewards the last year or so and now that the cards are pretty much paid off due to the recent stimulus payment (I had to put things like a medical bill on my husband's card, my Amazon Prime renewed that I had forgotten about and such, so there is some things on them again), so I have worked on paying off one credit card completely every month and then use that card to pay the utilities and things, so that we can quickly accumulate rewards. When your electric bill is about 400.00 at the moment due to winter not giving up...yeah that adds up quickly.
Anyway, one of the things I purchased with credit card rewards (well after redeeming said rewards for Amazon giftcards) was to get an I-Pad charging station for the living room so I could get the tablets out of my kitchen. I LOVE it! It is so nice to not be tripping over charging cords all the time and having a place for the tablets to plug in that is out of the way of me cooking and things.
Next, I tackled the kitchen. I have become addicted to various vlog channels on YouTube the last few months, mainly a South Korean vlogger whose channel is Nyangsoop because I love her style of vlogging and I love the warmth of her home and kitchen. I really have become a fan of channels like hers due to lack of vocal communication and quiet backgrounds, so I can just read the subtitles and enjoy the neat cooking segments and stuff while sitting with the TV turned way down at night waiting for the son to settle down and go to bed. While watching her channel and other Asian vloggers, I started to really get some good tips on how to make my small kitchen run more efficiently. I watched pretty much every American video on how to better organize a small kitchen and got nothing, I repeat nothing, out of them (no offense to DIY stations, just modern kitchens don't really help me organize my 1970's style kitchen), so it was great to me to run into things that actually gave me some good ideas as I am always striving to make things work more efficiently around here.
Note: The following do not contain associate links, but I am linking to some product pages. I'm just sharing. If you would like to support the blog, feel free to click on the link to Amazon on the right hand side of the blog (you may need to turn off your ad blockers to see it) and order things after clicking through to Amazon from there. I will receive a small commission for sending the sale Amazon's way if you order through the link. Thanks if you do :).
I have been working on picking things up slowly over the last bit and just using reward points and things to pay for it. With the exception of the chairs. The kitchen chairs went onto my Amazon card, but were needed. I just found that our one wood chair that the daughter was sitting in was in need of replacement and a much less intense job than what it was dealing with day in and day out with kitchen table duty combined with homeschool. My father-in-law has always had this bad habit of tipping back in chairs when he would sit in them and he is NOT a light guy. He managed to break one of our kitchen chairs years ago and that is why we had the metal framed chair since the kids were very small and the other one he managed to crack, but it was managing to hold together with some maintenance help from wood glue. But, I did my six month check up on the chair for Spring cleaning and found that the crack was getting worse. Since the table set used to be my husband's grandparents set, has sentimental value for my husband (and honestly I love the maple furniture myself, not to mention I had a lot of affection for his grandparents), the last thing I wanted to do was to break that chair.
So, I went on Amazon and put a two pack of kitchen chairs on my credit card after looking around everywhere I could find trying to find a replacement for our old chairs (turns out the company that made our table set declared bankruptcy in 1983 and it is really hard to find the maple furniture now, sadly). I checked locally, but found nothing that would even close to work for us, tried Target.com (won't ship the kitchen chairs to Alaska) and everywhere I could think of. I, after trolling around Amazon for ages, found these, which would actually ship to Alaska (most of them don't ship up here that are on Amazon either). My husband helped me to put them together and while they don't match our table finish (which, I would have been thrilled if it had, but knew that the odds of that weren't good), they are solid wood and came together solid, so we are happy with them. And, hey, at least the two chairs on either side of the table match now where they definitely did not before. The other chair retired to my bedroom where it sits at my husband's computer desk for his occasional internet surfing. He is much happier with it than the fold out chair he was using and I think the chair will last a long time in that location as my husband will be good to the chair. I took the black 80's style chair and put it at my sewing table to replace, once again, a fold out chair, so that is also nice for my back when I'm doing sewing (which I have some of that on my long list of things to do as well).
The chair cushions are not built into the chairs by the way. The cushions are these. I ordered them to help my back as sitting on the bare wood furniture for hours helping the kids with school was not helping the bulging disc in my back. They are okay. They don't slip like the old tie onto the back of the chair cushions used to when I was a kid, but they aren't the best either. They definitely are firm, so if you are looking for something cushier, I would not recommend them.
The bread box behind the table is this one, although I got mine at way less of the price point than it is now. And I WOULD NOT recommend buying it at that price point! The instructions for assembly were non-existent. It took me two hours to get the screws to hold the bamboo and not strip out as the screws were cheap and I had to figure out how to construct the thing with no instructions to go off of. When it was finally together, it is cute, I'll give it that, and it works like a bread box should. I do like the plexi-glass fronts on the bread box as I can see what is in the box. I am so tired anymore that I was forgetting bread in my other box and was losing things to mold (my fault, not the boxes fault), so this has been really nice and gives me a good place to put baked goods that keeps them off of my counters, which I need.
I took the other bread box I had (that I love the look of) and was able to store a ton of things for more "fancy" baking in it. Like my icing tip kit, cupcake liner papers and things like that. I was even able to store some of my holiday cookie cutters that were for the non-Christmas holidays (Easter, Halloween, etc) in my old bread box as well. It is nice having them by my microwave and within easy reach for when we want to use them without having to tear apart the house looking for them.
I put a radio I found at the used store early this year (whoever got rid of it, got rid of it quick, because when I searched for it I found that it came out in August of last year) on top. I love the look of it and it will work with a power cord or batteries, which is nice for an emergency. It gets a few channels, but not my favorites, so I might be moving it around the house to find the channels I want to listen to and working on finding a radio that fits my tastes that also doubles a Bluetooth speaker *laugh*. I also cleaned up a pewter flower pot (so much tarnish!) I found at the used store years ago and has migrated around the kitchen since I bought it and I put some fake flowers (we bought some new for a art project my daughter had for school and I just snatched some when it was done) in it. I like how the entire thing looks in the kitchen, I have to say, and it is nice being able to listen to the radio in the morning while I am waiting for the kids to wake up., even if I can't seem to get the classical music station on the sucker.
I ordered a new blind for the kitchen when the pull string for the old one ended up breaking so I couldn't even put the blind all the way down and I was having to stand on a chair to open the blind all the way when I wanted. It was a HUGE pain and I had enough of things being broken on it. The wand to open the slats had broken in the earthquake, so the string was the only way to open or close the blind, the paint had changed color from age, it as metal so it did not like to clean up at all, it was an outside mount blind so it got in the way of the pot rack...we had our issues. The string breaking was just the final straw for me. So, I ordered a new blind and installed it this week (my window, it turns out, is an odd size window, so I had to order a non-standard sized blind to install). I am happy with it and even ended up with two as one got lost in the mail for nearly a month and showed up at my door a day after the replacement order came in. What I am going to do with the other blind...I have no idea, although my mom suggested keeping it as a back up in case something broke on this one. I tried to match the mahogany type of stain on the trim of the window, and while the photo doesn't show it very well, I nearly succeeded, so I'm okay with it. At least I can open and close this one *laugh*.
I also, after careful thought, got a behind the sink shelf to try and get a bit more space out of the kitchen. I put my mortar and pestle there so I can access it easier (and not break a toe dropping it on my foot), my ceramic coffee cone (as it doesn't sit in my cupboard very well, but it was a gift, so I was determined to find a nice place for it), my coffee filters (in the tan holder there), my coffee container and my sugar bowl. It makes morning coffee very streamlined and I really love it. I wish it was a bit taller, though, as the shelf gives me BARELY enough room to turn the faucet on and off and using the sprayer on the back of the sink requires a bit of creativity.
Next up was a real game changer for me and was one of the ideas I got from a bunch of Asian vlogs and that was a cutting board holder so you would have cutting boards within easy reach. I got this cutting board holder and set it up in an awkward corner of my kitchen counters that always seems to not work right. I got my most used cutting boards out of my sheet pan cabinet (which is saving me a bunch of arm strength as getting sheet pans out when the cabinet is full with the cutting boards in there is not an easy task) and put them in the holder, Best use of credit card rewards, I swear! I love having such easy access to my cutting boards!!! I was even able to put a nice bamboo cutting board I got as a birthday gift in front so you don't have to look at my plastic cutting boards first *laugh*.
The other big purchase I made, was due to, once again, necessity. My phone started to die and was muting calls randomly. I went online and found that the Vtech cordless phone I had definitely had a problem with that happening and I should replace the entire phone system. So, instead of having to buy a new cordless phone and having to replace the batteries way too often (so it feels like anyway) and spending more than the phone originally cost on said batteries, I decided that I was just going back to basics and ordered this corded phone instead. We have another old corded phone plugged in downstairs, so now we have two corded phones in the house. I bought a 25 foot phone cord to go with the phone, so it stretches about 12 feet or so without too much trouble and honestly I don't miss the cordless phone. I only talk to a very limited number of people on the phone, so it works fine for me. And now I don't have to worry about power outages taking out the phone (sure the answering machine and caller ID won't work, but the main phone does) and I don't have to worry about replacing batteries. It works for me! Now I just need to find a good place to wall mount it to get it off of my counter.
Next up, I invested in a six pack of heavy duty magnetic hooks and I hung up all of my pot holders on either side of my fridge to free up actually a pretty significant amount of drawer space out of one of the few drawers I have. I also like how easy of access I have to them this way.
And the last thing I got for the kitchen is a good old fashioned pan rack so I could turn all of my more awkward shaped pans onto their sides and organize them better and not worry about everything falling over every time I needed a pan. Once again, a great investment (the one I ordered is no longer available, so no sharing this time) and I'm glad I got it.
For non-photo related items, there are various ones. My goal, right now, is to do one thing on my Spring Cleaning/Chore list a day AT LEAST, so that I feel like I accomplished something and also to just start slowly checking things off of my very long list. So we also...
1. Cleaned the fridge all over the outside, removed the bottom plate and cleaned out the coils anywhere I could reach on the fridge. Had the husband move the fridge out (if we were going to break the water line, again, moving the fridge, I wanted him there to take care of it *laugh*) and did a deep clean behind it and everything. I still need to empty the fridge itself and deep clean all of the shelves, but I'm making progress.
2. My husband has started to put down carpet in my son's room. It is going slower than we hoped. The carpet was completely shot, the carpet pad was disintegrating and we even had some mold on the sub-floor (luckily no black mold). We got all the old carpet in about 2/3 of the room ripped out after doing a bunch of research online I found that you were supposed to scrub the sub-floor five times with borax (I added some bleach just to be safe as well) to make sure that all mold was killed before putting on new carpet. So, that's what I did. Got a ton of blister on my knees that day climbing back and forth across the floor, but it came out clean, lighter and the room had no smell anymore. Course then my husband started putting down carpet squares and there was carpet glue smell to worry about, but with the help of a nice big fan and an open window, the smell went away fast and the son's mood improves every time we can find time where he's in a good mood to put down more carpet squares. I'll share pictures when the room is a bit more done, but I'm glad we are getting that job done since we have been sitting on the carpet for a good long time now and I'm happy to get it where it needs to go (and get the boxes out of my den *laugh*).
3. I sat down and started to sketch out my master bedroom closet to try and figure out a good system to organize it. It looks like Armagedon right now, so I really want to get it organized, neat and accessible and so I'm working it into my master bedroom plans for the summer (since I have to repair and paint it anyway).
4. Sat down and started figuring out different food preservation plans for this year and uses for each (I don't like to preserve anything anymore that I might or might not use...I work on preserving things we will use versus "might use" for the sake of not wasting food and so we don't have to worry about eating things we might not like). I'm working on embracing more than just canning as a means of preserving food this year as canning jars have become hard to find and cheaper quality (I've seen and heard absolute horror stories on the new Ball canning jars that are coming out...now that they have been sold, I guess quality control is not what it used to be) and canning lids are still platinum plated unless you want to take your chance on ones made in China that might or might not work. I've got a limited number of Tattler lids and an old stock of one use canning lids, but still want to make my efforts and materials last as long (and as smartly) as possible.
5. Started to make tentative plans for the garden this year. Seeds are definitely out this year as the cats dug up my attempt to start seeds in the house and with the weather breaking so late this year I'm figuring the nursery is going to be my best bet for plant starts. Between the garden and the CSA box I'm hoping to put up a decent amount for winter next year.
And there you go folks. Some of the things we've been up to lately. How about you? Getting cleaning and organizing done this year?