Friday, April 27, 2012

Farm-fresh Friday: This week this stuff happened...

Whew, what a week.
Despite the fact that they're being assaulted my snow-ish type stuff this morning, my flowers are coming back!  last Summer was my first attempt at planing a tiny perennial garden.  So this Spring was going to be the test to see if they actually were going to come up again for year two.  Yippee!

Joan RiversMy mom and I went to see Joan Rivers perform at the FLYNN theater last night.  For a solid hour I laughed so hard I thought my lungs might pop.  She's one funny old bitch.  So is Joan Rivers.  Ha!  Sorry Mom...  Seriously though, my mom rocks for going to this with me.  At what point does the transition take place where you go from being 16 and thinking your mom is the most embarrassing person on the planet, to sitting next to her, laughing like crazy at a 78-year-old woman dropping the f-bomb and talking about her sagging lady parts? I don't know when or how that happened, but it's pretty great.

  While dodging raindrops over the last couple days, I got a bit more done on the chicken coop.  You can see the edge of my sexy polka-dotted umbrella in the pics because it was doing this nasty wet snow/rain/soak-you-to-the-bone precipitation thing this morning while I was trying to take these shots...
Doors installed in the back for clean-out and nesting box access.

A room with a view... I guess I figured that the little cluckers might like to have a little daylight, and a view if the weather was yucky and they wanted to stay inside.  then i realized that their brains are about the size of a raisin, and they probably aren't going to care at all...but the window was actually the perfect width for the space, so there it went.
The Kid went and got himself a free afternoon off from school, and a fancy new shiner the other day.  Wasn't fighting...just clumsy...

And my dad came over last Sunday to help me frame in the little nook at the end of our hallway for a linen closet.
Drywall up, and door hung on Wednesday (I did that!!!).  Technically, it's a train wreck, but aesthetically, it looks pretty great, huh?!

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: how to afford the good-for-you food

OrganicLet's be honest here... The good stuff doesn't come cheap.  It's pretty devastating to wander around the grocery store, having to choose between the stuff you can afford, and the stuff that's going to keep you healthy.  Some retailers definitely play up the trend, and mark up the "Green" goods, because they know people will pay it.  This is a jerk thing to do.  But a lot of retailers don't have much of a choice either.  They have to make money too, and if the product they're buying from the farmer is more expensive, then it's going to be more expensive on the shelf too.  Not dousing the hell out of a crop with pesticides means more crop-loss due to insects, predators, and diseases.  It also means hiring extra help to manually weed the crops.  So the price per organic produce item has to be higher than the non-organic one because the farmer and the retailer have to make up for the losses and the labor somehow.

Understanding why it costs more is great, but it doesn't make it suck any less at the cash register.  So what can you do stay healthy, and still keep your costs down?
~Buying local produce at farmer's markets cuts out the middle-man, as well as a tremendous amount of shipping charges.  You can buy straight from the grower, and cut out the extra retail mark-up cost, as well as the extra fees and fuel involved in shipping it to a store.  When you buy organic produce from the grocery store that has a sticker on that says it was grown in another country, you can bet your ass that most of what your paying for is the shipping cost to get it here.

~If you have the time and patience for it, cooking from scratch is the way to go.  Buying ingredients, rather than already-prepared meals is way cheaper per meal.  I get it though... Time is a hot commodity also, and there's no shame in letting someone else do the dirty work.  I lucked out on this one.  I married a cook.  Before I met him, the only time the stove was turned on was for grilled cheese or scrambled eggs.    

But what about stuff like cereal, and other things usually not found at your local farmer's market?
~Buy generic.  True, some of the grocery store's generic brand stuff is pretty dreadful.  But some isn't.  I have no idea what other grocers offer, but ours has it's own generic store brand of hippie-dippy options.  So I'm able to cut costs pretty significantly by buying that stuff rather that the commercial version.  Cutting costs here allows me some extra wiggle room for stuff that I can't find so cheap, like fruit (other than apples, Vermont's not a prime location for growing fruit crops).

Source:  Martha Stewart
Still not happy with the options, or don't have a local farmer's market?
~Do it yourself!  Container gardening is wicked easy and insanely cheap.  It's virtually weed-free, you can either grow from seed, or buy "starts," and you don't have to go any further than your front porch to get the fixings for a salad in the summer.  

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Make-it-work Wednesday: a place for everything, and everything in it's place...

Since I valiantly sacrificed my closet to make way for our new master bathroom, getting dressed in the morning has proven to be a bit of an ordeal.  I pride myself on having a highly functioning, teeny-tiny wardrobe, but it still proved to be a serious problem to squeeze all my stuff into my husband's already crowded closet.  So half of my clothes were temporarily relocated to our spare bedroom.  Can I just tell you how much fun it is to grab a pair of jeans and a sweater from my "new" bedroom closet, just to use them to hold over myself, so I can run down the hallway to where my undergarments and t-shirts are hiding out?  It's been wicked great...

 Anyway, I found this monstrosity of a wardrobe cabinet at ReStore for $35.00 to solve all my problems (wardrobe related ones that is).  I was thrilled with my find, and brought it home, super impressed with myself, not only for the "bargain" I got, but also with the fact that I got it to fit in my car.  My husband hated it.  I decided that he didn't get a say in it though, because he's not the one who had to go streaking through the house every morning to put an outfit together.

The cabinet was in seriously rough shape though.  Structurally it was solid as a rock, but cosmetically, it was a train wreck.

Good, solid drawer construction with strong dove-tail joints and real wood...none of that particle board crap.  The veneer was in majorly rough shape though. 

I glued down any floppy pieces of the veneer with wood glue and used a little lot of wood filler to patch the places where it had already peeled off.
Scratches, dents, and dings all patched up

Drawers all patched up.

I used a sanding block to smooth out the dried wood filler, and wiped the dust away with a microfiber cloth so the primer would get a really good grip.

I mixed my own paint color from what was left of a blue that was strangely close to the color of painter's tape (the room we painted with it ended up repainted shortly after we discovered that it looked like the whole room was covered in strips of painter's tape), and a color green that I can't fathom putting on anything in my house and have no idea why it was purchased in the first place.  

It came out this cool, retro-ish teal.  The drawers in this cabinet are massive.  So the top one is currently being used for extra shoe storage (the future plan is for them to move under the bed, but this works for now).

Yes, really, this is all I own for clothing that's nice enough to hang up.  So this teeny little space was perfect for my needs.  It's worth pointing out that I ripped the bottom out of the cabinet and didn't replace it.  it was not a structural piece, was in awful shape, and it gave me extra storage space to be able to put stuff all the way down to the floor.  The bag on the bottom is my "bag bag."  Just as it sounds... a bag full of my bags.  

Ta-da!  I purposefully didn't paint the inside of the door.  It's the most amazingly beautiful wood, and it was the only piece in the entire cabinet that was still perfectly intact.  I couldn't bring myself to slap paint on it.  
     In the "After" shot at the top of the post you can also see that I changed the hardware on the door.  It's a nifty little chevron-shaped handle I found at ReBuild for 50 cents, and spray-painted it chrome.

By the way, my husband still hates the cabinet... I think it may have something to do with the cease-streaking that took place when the finished cabinet appeared...

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


There's a big fat Grey Squirrel that's been poaching out of our compost bin lately.  She has to run right across our front lawn to get her rotten veggie bounty.  So the dogs get a fantastic view of her bouncing fluffiness from our living room windows.   My dog, Martha, wants this squirrel so badly.  I don't think I can explain to you how truly psychotic she becomes when she sees this thing out the window.  She barks incessantly, shakes like a tweaker coming off a high, blows snot all over my windows, and blasts around the room, slamming into furniture, bouncing off the windows, trying to get a better vantage point every 3-5 seconds.  And since Martha sneaks like an elephant, the squirrel hears all the commotion and just safely bounds away, knowing that the big scary dog is not so scary when she's stuck behind the big glass walls.  The squirrel happily makes off with her coffee-ground-covered apple core to feed her family (and probably goes home to tell them that the stupid buffoon dog hit its face of the glass... again).     


Look, Big Sister, a squirrel!

Mom, my squirrel went away again...

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, April 23, 2012

Manic Monday: Venturing out...

this rocks.
I'm in great fear of my future hermitage status.  The more I venture out in public, the less I want to be there.  Things I found ridiculous during today's outing:

~I went to Lumber Liquidators to purchase a piece of threshold needed to finish the transition between our new bamboo flooring and our tiled kitchen floor.  The cashier printed out 4 full 8.5"x11" sheets of bright yellow, dye-saturated paper as my "receipt" for my transaction for my eco-friendly bamboo.  In my most pleasant tone, I pointed at all the papers and said to him, "While we're on the subject of wasting paper, could you please take us off your mailing list?  We just purchased an entire house worth of flooring.  So all the coupons we keep getting in the mail are just a tease that we could get it cheaper next time we decide it's a good idea to tear up all our hard work and start over, and it seems to be just another waste of paper."

~While feeling pretty smug about my new purchase of a bathroom vanity and linen closet door for $55.00 (total) at the recycled building supply center, I dropped a tampon out of my coat pocket onto the floor on my way out.  I didn't realize it until the scruffy looking guy who works there felt the need to call out to me that I'd "dropped something."  Dude, it's not like it was used.  Save a girl some humiliation, pick it up, toss it in the trash, and pretend it never happened.  Just sayin'...

~I've been on a search for local raw honey.  I eat a spoon full of it daily during allergy season to help with outdoor allergies.  Tis the season, and I'm currently out of my stash.  I had one more healthy-people-food store to check, and came up empty again.  Their "local" honey was distributed locally from a place that collected it from all over the place, including Canada.  I despise tricky labeling.

~While at the hardware store (not my local one, but one of the same company), I tried to use our discount (usually looked up by our name at the local store) and was told that it only applied for the local area where I got the card, unless I had the card on me.  It was in my husband's wallet (at home), and the cashier wouldn't honor the discount.  It twisted my panties right up to know that I could have gotten hinges for the chicken coop doors at 10% off if I'd remembered to buy them when I got my paint at the local spot, and if that cashier had known ANYthing at all about customer service.

But then I came home, and my husband let my son help prep for dinner.  They made breaded pork nuggets, and my son was all excited.  He came up to me and whispered in my ear, "they're kind of like fish sticks, except they're not made out of chicken, they're made from pork!"

Remind me again why I'd ever want to leave...

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, April 20, 2012

Farm-fresh Friday: Coop progress...

Can I just tell you that I have actually shed tears over this chicken coop?  No joke, if you happened to be in the area in the early afternoon on Wednesday, you would have seen a 30-year-old woman out in her front yard, beating the shit out of an old door with a hammer, and sobbing like a toddler.  The good news is I'm totally over it now, and things are starting to proceed smoothly again.  I just had a tiny little melt down over the fact that my easy, little, cheap coop project had turned into a complicated monstrosity of materials that we couldn't afford.  but no turning back is what it is.  So here's the progress report since last Friday...

the railroad ties were poached from my mom's house, and the pressure-treated decking was salvaged from what was left of our root cellar.  Yes I would like to have another one someday, but that one had to go.

the plywood used to be on the floor of our living room (under the sexy carpeting that the previous owner had put in sometime, I'm guessing, around the late 70's).  We tore the sheets of plywood out when we installed our new flooring, and saved it.  3/4 inch plywood is like solid costs about the same, and you don't part with it once you have it.  The 2x4's for the framing were the first part of the coop that we had to purchase new.  I spent about $65 on enough to do the walls, and the roof.

From this post (where we left off on Monday evening).
the roof was supposed to be free, but it didn't work out that way at all.  We had a bunch of scrap roofing from an old shed we'd torn down years ago, and I was all excited to reuse it...until we discovered that it was almost completely rusted through, and where it wasn't, it had about a billion screw holes in it.  So that was another $60 spent.  thankfully the roofing panels didn't need to be fancy, and we were able to score the cheap ones at $15 a panel (with the contractor discount that i now get at the lumber yard, I think out of pity).   

(because apparently I'm expecting Godzilla-chickens,  and needed to build an extra tall coop)?

Doors...wait, no...walls...Um...
So, interesting story about these doors... About a year before I met my husband, I was planning on building my own house.  Right around the same time that I was starting to collect "good finds" (you know, a cool light fixture, or a sink still in like-new condition?) I came across an awesome find.  The local fire department was scheduled to burn down an old farmhouse.  Sounds counter-productive, I know.  Usually they try to stop things from burning, not start them.  But the house was no longer in reparable condition, and had been donated to them to use for training.  So I contacted one of the members of the department, and asked about the doors.  Turns out they were going to have to take them all off before the burn anyway.  So he went with me, and we spent a morning salvaging the doors.  I never built that house, and those stupid old doors have had to move with me twice, all the while my husband asking me what the hell we were going to do with 9 old doors.  Use them for siding on our chicken coop, of course!  

Where I left off on Wednesday.  2 sides done, 2 sides to go. 

Still to do:
~finish other 2 sides
~make nesting boxes
~put flooring in (I saw a genius idea on another blog about adding easy-to-clean material to the coop floor to make mucking a whole lot easier).  I'm all about making cleaning easy, so I'm NOT skipping the flooring step.
~fill gaps (lots of them) with caulking and spray-foam.  Vermont Winter wind is not very forgiving, and I'll be damned if I'm going to put in all this work just to have 6 frozen chick-cicles next January. 
~build fence

The chicks will be here in 2 weeks.  Oh, and we have to finish our master bathroom before our appraisal for our refinancing...also in 2 weeks.  Sweet!

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Have some restraint...

want what you need...not need what you want.

The magazines and online media do a fantastic job of making you believe that you need to have new sandals this Summer, or that last year's bathing suit just won't do at the beach this season.  it's so easy to get sucked in too.  I'll tell you, there are 3 pairs of shoes, a pair of boots, 2 sweaters, and one t-shirt nestled in my wardrobe that I spent mad money on, can't imagine not keeping forever and ever, and I'm not even a tiny bit sorry about it.  BUT, that was when I still had my big-girl paycheck.  Just because it's going to last forever, fit you perfectly, and you'll feel amazing in it, doesn't mean you can afford to buy it today...   

by Stuart Weitzman

I can't even begin to describe how much I love these shoes.  They're this season's version, with a slightly more manageable heel height, than last season's (seen below on my favorite celeb).  They're also as much as my monthly car payment...and a week of groceries...

Jennifer Aniston shoes
Jennifer Aniston via
I can honestly say that the first few months of not having my own petty cash anymore were rough.  I had gotten very used to being able to have what I wanted as soon as I clicked buy, and it arrived a few days later, handed to me by the UPS man like a mid-year un-birthday present... sigh.  I can also now honestly say that since some time has passed, and I've settled into my new thrifty-er lifestyle, I don't miss the old open-wallet me one bit.  So, yes, I absolutely love those shoes, but, no, I'm not sorry I don't have them.  Not having them allows me to have something a wicked lot more valuable to me... the ability to be home with The Kid.

Warning:  if you spend a long enough period of time away from frivolous purchases, you may develop a wildly snobbish attitude toward those still making said cash-burning choices (except towards Jen.  She can still do no wrong in my book).  Once you see the light peeking through from the simple life, it's hard to go back...just sayin.'   

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Make-it-work Wednesday: back-to-basics of bartering...

Since giving up my big-girl job and becoming a stay-at-home Mom, I've had to find some pretty creative ways to stretch a dollar.  The most fascinating thing I've discovered about this whole transition period, is that it's a little like getting in Doc's Delorian and going back in time.  If you don't have money anymore, you have to find a different way to acquire things.  Since stealing and hooking are still morally out of the question for our family's list of resources, we've gone back-to-basics on a lot of our "purchases."

There is no more, "I want that.  So I'll just buy it."  It's more like, "I want that.  So I either need to sell something to earn the money for it, trade something for it, or decide if I really want it bad enough to part with one of my things, or some of my time to get it."  Think Hunger Games...  You want bread?  Kill a squirrel for the baker.  Luckily my husband makes pretty awesome bread, because squirrels are fast and small, and don't make easy targets.  And if you want to get super technical, Back to the Future and The Hunger Games are both set in the future, not the past, but just hear me out and go with it...

Just to give you an idea of what I mean by all this, here are a few things that we've bought, sold, traded, or otherwise creatively acquired without spending my husband's paycheck since downsizing to one income:    

~ 4 sessions of babysitting = 1 dining room table...  We needed a new table, my friend had one that was too big for the dining room in her new house, she needed a sitter, I had some free time, everyone wins.

~1 afternoon of helping a friend move = 1 giant jar of maple syrup.  Same friend that the table came from.  Folks you need to go get a friend like this... just not this one.  She's mine.  

~1 big box of old clothes = a few articles of "new" clothing... Each season I go through my closet and pull out any clothing and accessories that haven't been worn since the last clean-out.  I box it all up, bring it to the 2nd hand shop, take whatever money they'll give me for it, and use the money to buy some new clothes.  *Bonus:  To help rid my house of unnecessary clutter, I swing by Goodwill afterwards and drop off anything that the 2nd hand shop wasn't interested in buying.  If I was willing to part with it in the first place, than it doesn't need to come back home with me.

~100 gallons of unused heating oil + 1 fuel tank = 1 new sports bra, a faucet for the new master bathroom shower, and a week's worth of groceries...  We recently upgraded our ancient old oil heating system to a new propane one, and the fuel company was going to charge us to pump the left-over oil out of the tank.  Not to mention having no idea what to do with the giant oil tank taking up valuable storage space in our basement.  My husband found a guy on craigslist that was interested in buying the oil, and the guy also happened to know of a church that needed the tank.  We took a loss on what we originally paid for the fuel, but instead of us paying even more for the fuel company to get it gone and having to figure out what to do with the tank, the guy paid us to take it all.  

~A few yards of fabric = 1 haircut...  I've recently started going through my monstrous fabric stash and selling some of it on Etsy.  This frees up storage space in our home, and gives me a few extra buck to get my shaggy 'do spiffed up.  

~A few bottles of my homemade cleaning products = fence posts for the chicken yard...  I make the stuff for use in our home anyway, so when I make a batch, I make extra, bottle it, and sell it on Etsy.  It doesn't sell like hotcakes, but it sells enough to put a a few extra dollars in my bank.  Over the course of a couple months, it became enough to purchase a bunch of fence posts with.

Thanks for stopping by,


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Manic, Talking Tuesday: a mash-up of a skipped Manic Monday post with today's regular Talk-it-out Tuesday post...

This is where we left off with the coop construction last night.  Looks pretty darned sweet if I do say so myself...that is until I finish it up by using old doors as siding.  Sorry, but there's no way in hell that I'm going to spend as much on my chicken coop as we have on our master bathroom.  Whatever's left in our yard for scrap material is what's being used to finish this thing.  
For the last several days things have been a little crazy at our house.  We're now down to crunch time on getting our master bathroom finished, because we're in the process of re-financing our house (at almost a full 3 points less of an interest rate than when we bought it, thank-you-very-much), and need it finished before the appraiser comes over.  In the midst of all the bathroom-building chaos, we're I'm also way behind on getting our my chicken coop finished.  My chicks are going to arrive in 2 weeks, and right now their poor little unhatched souls are slated for a future life of homelessness.

I came to the realization this morning that we're pretty much adding a master bathroom in our house to make up for the colossal de-valuing that's taking place by putting a chicken coop right outside our front door.  I have taken into consideration everyone's comments suggesting that I should have built it in my back yard.  I agree whole-heartedly with them, but all I can say is....Whoops.

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, April 13, 2012

Farm-fresh Friday: Manual labor brings a family together...whether they like it or not...

   Having a kid means having an extra set of hands for chores that isn't allowed to quit, and can be paid in LEGOs.  Now before you report me to social services, hear me out...

Doing manual labor forces families to spend time together.  It might not be as fun as a family trip to an amusement park, but it teaches the whole family a lesson that can't be learned anywhere else but at home.   It allows kids to see the work that goes into maintaining a house, or a garden plot, or a chicken coop, and the rewards that come from the hard work.  Want a warm house?  Help me bring in firewood (as pictured above).  And you know what?  It turned out to be a wicked lot of fun for The Kid to get to push the wheel barrow around.  Who knew, right?  

Now, I can tell you flat out that a 7-year-old doesn't make for the most efficient firewood stacker.  I could probably stack it all faster on my own, but I've had some of the coolest conversations with my kid while doing chores, and I wouldn't trade that for any of the time I could have saved by doing the work myself.  

I'm also going to let you in on a scandalous secret that 7-year-olds around the country will probably all hate me for telling their parents...
Kids will actually start enjoying chores if you let them.  If you make it a "chore" to do chores, then they'll hate you for it forever.  But if you make it into a lesson of cause-and-effect, they'll thank you for it... someday.  My kid is certainly not the poster child for motivation, or for self-starting chores, but once started, the satisfaction on his face for accomplishing a grown-up task on his own is pretty awesome.

Thanks for stopping by,


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Don't be sucked into the hype...

A few years back (and still going strong today), anything sold in a brown paper or cardboard package with green font on the label was playing into the latest "Green" trend.  Consumers were...well...consumed...with the need to buy green goods.  Manufacturers caught on quickly and started packaging products in a way that fed the fire of the trend, and prompted folks to buy their wares (which were exactly the same as before, but in a new package that duped you into paying more money for the same old stuff, and think they were getting a planet-friendly karma boost).  Currently the of-the-minute trend is Urban Farming.  Go me!  I'm on trend!  Super...

So, here's the deal... Most established "urban farmers" are pretty clever and are already in the dirt DIY'ing the hell out of stuff.  So they're probably pretty safe from hype-mark-up products like this "Chicken coop predator kit" from Williams-Sonoma (yes the place with the fancy plates and coco mixes is now selling "supplies" for your chicken coop)...

But for those of you just starting out (like me), who may not know any better, please educate yourself before going shopping, or you're sitting ducks.  Folks, please just visit your local farm, feed, or hardware store and buy the stuff from this "kit" for a fraction of the price.  That wire material is otherwise known as hardware cloth, and is usually sold by the roll in wider and longer lengths than the one above, for about a third of the price.  And I've yet to set foot in a single hardware store that doesn't sell nails and washers...

Other current trends to be aware of:
~Organic and natural products for babies (since those little buggers happen all the time, and people just can't help but throw mad amounts of money their way, I think this one's here to stay)
~Local (I have mad amounts of respect for this one, but for the love of God, please scream with me next time you hear something like, "buy local; support your local Walmart").
~Anything made from a pallet (this one was super creative in the beginning when you could still scrounge them up for free, but now that you have to pay solid gold for a one to destroy to make a coffee table out of, it's not really the same, is it?)

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Make-it-work Wednesday: New Master Bathroom!!!

This is my inspiration photo for our master bathroom...
I'm totally kidding.  This bathroom is bigger than all 3 bedrooms in my house combined.  And although it's totally gorgeous, the practicality in me kills the dream of it.  All I can think of is how dirty that chair is going to get when my kid jumps on it, and how bad that rug's going to stink when it gets wet.

OK, so here's my actual inspiration room...

I know this picture doesn't show much of the room, but it has the stuff I'm shooting for; Bright walls, subway tile, classic sink that'll never go out of style, and just a few pops of color from accessories that can be redistributed elsewhere if I get sick of them.  I change my mind pretty often, and I like the option of being able to change out colored towels rather than repainting a colored wall.

Getting a bathroom for our master bedroom was a bitter-sweet decision.  You see, in order to have a master bathroom, we would need to sacrifice my closet.  Nooooooooooo!!!!   I'm slightly obsessed with my closet.  I could spend hours in there pulling things out, reorganizing, putting things back, and making it just the right amount of OCD awesomeness.  But then, I saw the light.  Having a master bathroom would add mega value to our house (essential right now, since we're working on refinancing it), it would keep our grown-up bathroom stuff separate from The Kid's bathroom stuff, and it would save me having to march my scantily clad behind through the house at 2am for a potty break.  All of a sudden my perfect, color-coded, sleeve-length specific  piles of sweaters didn't seem so important anymore.  OK, not true.  They're still just as important, but I'm now willing to find a different home for them.

So it began...
Before:  Our bedroom (still without flooring at the time of this picture) as it was since we moved in 3 years ago.

During:  My dad came over and helped demo the wall between the bedroom and closet, and frame in the new space for the bathroom to go.  We lost about 3 feet from our bedroom, but we won't have to share a bathroom with a 7-year-old that is somehow capable of getting toothpaste on every single surface each night when he brushes his teeth.  So totally worth it.  
Where we stopped yesterday:  Certainly not an "After" shot here, but progress made.  The flooring is done (in our room too!).  Still to-do:
~Run plumbing and electrical
~Put up final drywall sections
~Install shower pan
~Tile shower walls (this will be my first ever tile project, so please wish me luck)
~Make (yes make) sink base
~Prime and paint walls
~Make shower curtain 
~Cut giant hole in exterior wall (that we just put new siding on 2 years ago), and install a window

Just a tiny to-do list... 
I'll keep you posted as we move further.  Hopefully we're not far off from having an "After" to show you.  

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Talk-it-out Tuesday: Local Love...

I'm sure you've already had the "Buy Local" message beaten into your brains more times than you can stand.  Just in case you have room in their for one more beating though, here I come with one...

You see, Vermont is lucky enough to have Al's French Fries call our state home.  And Hubby and I happen to be lucky enough to have most of our in-town errands be just a quick drive away from the culinary bliss that is Al's.  It's is not fancy, but it's good, it's cheap, the staff is always friendly, the place is spotlessly clean, and they've been open since the 1940's making the same great fries.  They've been decorated in the same old-fashioned black, white, and red diner colors since the beginning, and play awesome music from the era when it first opened.  The atmosphere can't be beat, and literally, The Husband, The Kid, and I can all eat there for less than $25.00 (total for the 3 of us), and come away with happy full bellies.  This place has been an institution in the Burlington area for as long as I can remember (and I'm sure long before that as well), and up until recently, there was simply no one who could compete with them.  And to be perfectly honest, I don't think anyone local would ever be rude enough to try.  You just don't mess with something that the locals love as much as they love Al's.

Five Guys Burger and Fries

then a couple months ago, a Five Guy's opened on the other side of town.  Yesterday when we were in town, Hubby and I decided to try it out to see if it was worth all the hype.  For those of you who aren't familiar with them, Five Guys Burgers and Fries is a franchise that was started in the Washington DC area in the late 1980's, and has been popping up locations all over the country, with a cult-like following ever since.  They've made quite a reputation for themselves serving fresh-off-the-grill burgers with about a bazillion different combinations of toppings, and, yes, fries.  It's quick, it's cheap, it's good, and decorated in old-fashioned red and white diner colors.   Sensing a trend here?

Understandably so, the staff at Al's was a bit uneasy when Five Guys came to town.  Well, fellas, I'm hear to tell you that Al's is safe and sound, in my opinion.  While the burgers at Five Guys were a bit bigger than the ones at Al's and there was an option of getting spicy fries (which we did, and they were good), it cost us easily double the price, we had to listen to the staff scream out burger and dog quantities the whole time, and we both had horrific gas later that evening.  I'm sure you're thinking that's TMI, but that's an accurate food review folks. The aftermath is an important thing to factor in.  Am I right, or am I right?

So there you have it.  Buy local...or purchase air freshener on the way home...

Photo sources: and  

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Manic Monday: There's a Tea for that...

When a Mom gets sick it's the equivalent of the captain of a ship becoming incapacitated.  It's not good.  Rough waters are surely ahead when the one most experienced can't be at the helm.  So I'm a big fan of good old preventative medicine.  I like to try and knock down whatever's trying to get me before it has a chance to take hold.  Basically, I feel that if I get it taken care of before I have to reach for the conventional medicine, I feel quite a lot better all around.  I ward off the worst of the ailment, and don't have to deal with any side effects of the medication.  I love the hell out of a few Advil when things get really tough, but it most cases, I try tea first.  Here's what I've found quite effective...     

I start 
drinking this stuff as soon as anyone else in my house has the first sign of a sniffle to give my immune system a little extra boost to fight off whatever's about to come my way.

This is totally amazing on a sore, scratchy throat.  I also use this one when I've been overzealous and gone out in chilly weather for a very brisk walk, jog, or snowshoe.  You know that ouchy feeling in your throat when you've overexerted yourself, and have been huffing and puffing freezing cold air for too long?  Well, this tea helps erase the consequences of my idiotic behavior.

This is their Christmas blend, but I try to keep it on hand all year.  It has ginger and peppermint in it, both of which are awesome for easing upset tummies.  It's tough to find in July though, so either stock up when you see it during the holidays season, or you can usually find plain peppermint, and plain ginger tea all year round.  You can either mix them together and recreate this one, or use them on their own. 

This stuff is terrifying, but extremely effective.  Fortunately, I've only had to use this once.  And I keep a box on hand, just in case, but it sits FAR back in the tea cupboard, as to not be confused for anything else and brewed on accident to ruin anyone's afternoon... 

***Disclaimer:  I'm not a medical professional.  I respect the hell out of those who are, but I would never in a million, tra-fillion years ever have the patience (no pun intended) to stay in school for that long.  So everything I just told you is how I, personally, choose to fix some of my minor ailments, and not what I would necessarily recommend for every single person on the planet.  As the boxes of tea themselves will tell you, it's not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing to drink herbal (not-regulated by the FDA) substances, and it's advisable to see your actual doctor, as opposed to reading an urban farmer's blog, if you have a medical condition that persists, and is beyond the repairing abilities of a cup of tea.

Have a good, healthy day!
Photo Sources: Celestial Seasonings, Yogi, Stash Premium, Traditional Medicinals.

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