Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Guess What We're Doing?

On Monday we started saying goodbye to 2002.

It's going to be a big job because it involves the fireplace.
Here is the "before" picture.  I have always thought those "ears" on both sides of the fireplace were heavy and clunky, and I wanted to knock them down.  But Hubs says that's not possible without running the danger of doing so much damage that we'd have to call in a pro to fix it.  And we're talking $$$$ then.  I want to use those $$$$ on a new sectional for this room, not on a bricklayer.  Another problem with this fireplace is that it's so dark, it just kind of disappears into the shadows unless we have all the lights on, which is almost never.  And those cabinets tucked into the corner are still the same color they were when we moved in, which was what color the walls were, too.  I have another use for that wall that runs up to this one and it won't work if those cabinets are there. Shhhh!  Don't tell Hubs!  I'm working up to it gradually.  If I show him the big picture he gets overwhelmed and balks.

This is not a project we're going to have finished quickly.  We have to work a few hours of work into every day because we get tired and then we get frustrated and then our workmanship goes to hell.  So I don't expect I'll be able to show you the finished project very soon.  Today, in fact, we'll probably not work on it at all.  We have the fitness center to go to today and then there are seedlings that need to be worked on.

You know how I love a good mystery.  So I won't tell you exactly what I have planned, except to say that we've not done anything to this room to make it look better since we moved in except to paint over the Hershey Dark Chocolate color that was on all four walls.  That was horrible.  It made me feel like I was in a cave.  I didn't like the color I chose, it didn't look nearly as pretty as I thought it would be, after it was on all four walls, but at least it made it less dark in there and that was an improvement.  So you're going to get to come along with me as we try to improve the looks of this room.  It'll be more work than my upstairs bedroom was (posted on 1/21/13, with before pics a little earlier), but it won't be as much work as the kitchen redo was, which was posted on a previous blog and lost when I closed it because of poor planning on my part.  Here's a couple of pictures of that just to refresh your memory.  These first two are the "before", with the previous owners' appliances, furniture, and decorative accents in it. 

Believe me, they had to throw a lot of light in there to make these pictures look even as good as they do.  Note the ugly carpet and the cabinet that doesn't have any drawers.  Oh, and the ugly pony wall.

Here's what this room looked like when we were nearly finished, I can't seem to find pictures I thought I took after the skillet rack was put up in the place of that rack that the aprons are hanging on:

This and the next are better pictures, lighting-wise, but were taken before we took the pony wall out and replaced the carpet with wood-grain laminate.  You can see the new floor in the first pic, though.
Here's one taken when we started working on the doorway after the pony wall was removed.  We did a lot of big things and a lot of detailed things, it was a big job and seemed like it was forever before we got the whole thing done.  Some tasks overlapped, and we discovered some things that had to be dealt with before we could resume, any of you that have worked on projects like this know what I mean. We took a little break after Hubs insisted the way I wanted the doorway done after the pony wall was taken out would not work.  It looked to me to be the simplest way to do it, and in the end, it was. 

I'd take up-to-date pictures today, but unfortunately we're all cluttered with the contents of the living room now. This is how far we've gotten on the living room project as of today.

Notice at the top of the fireplace, where the bricks stop about eight inches before it reaches the ceiling?  I mean, THAT was quite a shock.  We can't figure out why it's that way, unless maybe before this house caught fire (lightning) and was rebuilt, that's how high the ceilings were.  Our neighbor and good friend, Joe, knows someone who has about a thousand bricks that are pretty close to this color, and he called him and was told since we only need twenty-three, we can just go pick some out for free.

We also went out to window-shop at a couple of local furniture stores.  I'm thinking we need a couple of small sectional sets, and true to my habit of wanting the most expensive thing in the store, I am attracted to this Flexsteel set.  I need to measure but I think the space on the left side of the graph paper can accomodate a 3-cushion one-armed unit, a small corner, and a single cushion one-armed unit.  The set on the bottom of the space on the graph could be a two cushion one-armed unit, a small corner, and a single cushion one-armed unit.  The corner shown in the picture is the wide corner and I only have room for the small corner, which is fine with me.  I even found a gray nubby upholstery fabric that I liked.  The owner of the shop seemed impressed and said I had good taste but you never can tell what they really think.  She did ask my opinion of something they planned to buy for a display unit though.  I'm not trying to win any honors or anything, I just want something that I'm going to love after it gets delivered.  Mind you, I haven't ordered yet.  I need to add up the dimensions and measure so I can see where they will both begin and end for sure.  On the graph, so you can get your bearings, the kitchen is through the doorway at the bottom.  Entry hall is the doorway upper left.  Fireplace is that rectangle on the upper right wall.  Sliding patio doors a little below middle right.  Each square equals 1'. 
Hubs says we'll spend some of our childrens' inheritance. *Giggle*.

We are due for a warming trend starting on Friday and I think I'll get the cabbages transplanted out that day.  I think I mentioned that I have some plastic vinegar jugs saved up that I'm going to cut the bottoms out of and make cloches for stuff like this.  The bottoms of the jugs will make good "water catchers" to set flower pots in.  Seems I never have enough of those.

I'm just loving my big roll-around PVC cart that I bought at a garage sale last year.

It's so much better than the littler carts that I have in that the wheels are bigger, making it easier to navigate, and there's enough space between shelves so if I want to I can just wheel it out into the sunshine and everything on it gets the sun.  I'd buy a couple more in a New York Minute.  Lately I've been thinking how nice it would be if I had a rack that holds fluorescent lights vertically on the sides, facing in, that I could just wheel the cart into.  I'll probably never ask Hubs to build me that because I have to pace myself on my Honey-Do list and there are other things that are more of a priority.

I have to say lately I've been kind of frustrated with people with limited skills in the english language.  I mean, isn't it enough that people on the local NEWS cannot even spell things right on their crawler??  Or use the correct tense?  Woken up is not the correct term.  It's "Awakened".  Or pronunciation: there is no "IT" in REAL-TOR.  There is no "Q" in NU-CLEAR.  And are you as tired of hearing "Utilize" all the time as I am?   I had to call AT&T the other day.  I guess that would be enough said but you know I won't leave it at that.  The only reason I called was because we pay $5 more on our phone bill for a long-distance plan that we never use.  Years ago, I had been forced to have a long-distance plan because they were charging me extra on my bill for NOT having one, even if I didn't make any long-distance calls!  I just wanted to find out if that was still the case.  Well, I got India, and really, my frustration is not so much with the people of India, because a job's a job, you know?  But I am extreeeeeeeeeemly frustrated with American corporations that take American jobs to other countries.  They grew to the conglomerate size that they are because American workers made their product and American consumers bought it.  They owe it to America to keep these jobs in this country.  I think they ought to be taxed, big-time, for taking them elsewhere now that there are so many people in America who need jobs.  But anyway, I got a young woman with a heavy India accent, and three times I told her I was having trouble understanding her and each time she told me she would talk slower and louder.  Well, hell, I don't have a hearing problem.  But the big problem was that she went off on a toot explaining to me about everything that was on my bill and that didn't address my question, which I restated in as many different ways as I could think of in order to help her understand me.  I mean, I must look stupid because it seems like so many people just assume that I am!  Finally I just got frustrated and told her I was sorry, but that I didn't feel like we were getting anywhere and I hung up while she was saying, "But I can help you, I can help you."  I hated to do it and I didn't want to be rude, but I didn't think she was going to be able to help me and it was obvious she wasn't going to say, "Ok, then, have a nice day".  A little bit later I called back and the first thing I told the guy that answered was, "I need to speak to an American."  He informed me he was American, but he had a slight India accent, so I kind of wondered if that was the truth.  However, he seemed to have a better grasp of the language so I decided to forge ahead.  He was able to address my question quickly after I stopped his sales pitch for a "package" in mid-sentence.  Turned out they don't ding people for not having a long-distance plan on their land line anymore and he told me what it would reduce my monthly bill to and it sounded right.  Then he told me there'd be a one-time $10 charge on my bill to make the change.  To that I said, "WHAT????  You're not making me want to keep my land line at all!"  So then he said he'd give me a credit for the same amount because of my being a loyal long-term customer and all.  Well I don't know how loyal I am to AT&T, but ok.  Saving $5 a month on a bill doesn't seem like much, but why should you ever pay anything for something you don't use? 

I also called Dish that day.   We had gotten a thing in the mail that showed the different packages and what they cost.  They have a package now called the "Smart" package that has most of the channels we normally watch and is cheaper than the "120" package we have had since we started out.  I had Hubs look at it and tell me if it would be a problem to switch.  He said it wouldn't, so I made the switch and that'll save us $25 on our Dish bill every month.  The agent also told me that I could cancel the "insurance" we carry on our bill.  He said that all they ask is that we keep it for 6 months and after that time we can take it off with no penalties.  I asked him what happened after that when we have a problem and he said they'd just ask if we wanted to take out the insurance and if we did the issue would be taken care of under that.  Then we'd have to carry it for another six months before we could drop it again.  We've had that on our bill for five years.  So that saves me another $8 on the bill, at least until the next time our remote or receiver dies.  Wah-lah!  I think the call center for Dish is in Puerto Rico but the person I got spoke fluent english and was very helpful and agreeable, I admit I was impressed with his candor about the insurance. 

Another thing I am easily frustrated by is people who can't absorb information from what they read.  I have a big container of Miracle-Gro crystals.  I prefer to use the liquid in the dropper bottle because the crystals, if exposed to the open air, liquify and then you don't know HOW accurate your measurements are.  Plus they're messy.  I just want to use up the crystals I have and then I won't buy it in that form any more.  So I looked on the Internet trying to find out what the ratio would be of crystals to water to make concentrate the same power that's in the dropper bottles.  Didn't find anything.  So I e-mailed Miracle-Gro and one of their representatives e-mailed me back telling me how to mix up a gallon of ready-to-use liquid from the crystals.  Like I can't read the instructions on the package or something.  I e-mailed her back and reiterated that I already knew how to do that, I needed to know how much of the crystals to mix with how much water to make concentrate that I could pour into the dropper bottles for mixing up in a watering can as I went along.  By her e-mail reply, it was obvious she could not fathom why I would even want to do such a thing.  She said Miracle-Gro crystals were not made to be mixed up into concentrate.  Huh?  I would've felt better if she'd just said, "Uhhhhh, we don't know".  Because that's what I think is the case.  I mean, this can't be rocket science.  To go in another direction, I just need to know how many gallons a 5.5 oz. bottle of concentrate makes.  It's 1/8 tsp per quart.  That's 1/2 tsp per gallon.  There's 3/4 cup of concentrate in the bottle.  There are 36 teaspoons in 3/4 cup, or 72 half-teaspoons.  So, correct me if I'm wrong, but I get that the bottle makes 72 gallons of ready-to-use dilution.  That's one side of my answer.  Miracle-Gro crystals may be mixed in different ways, but for house plants, it's recommended 1/2 tsp for each gallon of water or for the constant feeding method, it's half that.  So am I right in computing 18 teaspoons (or six tablespoons) in an empty concentrate bottle and then just fill it with water to the top??
Well, this is now afternoon and I've been dinking around with my plants all day.  Hubs and I had our workout at the Fitness Center this morning.  And it has turned cold, a perfect day for jam-making, so I made a batch from the last of the strawberries I found in the freezer.  Better weather coming after tomorrow.  Spring's not far away!

Till next time, Rock On.....


  1. I don't think you can go wrong choosing Flexsteel. That is what my new living room furniture is.
    Our daughter has had a sofa since she got married some 20 or so years ago and it still looks brand new. That was my deciding factor.

    When you finish the living room, will that be it? I have lost track. I am constantly amazed at the energy you and Hubs have!

    Congrats on the monthly savings. I recently switched from a big East Coast trash company to a small local man. The bill went from $85 quarterly to $45! When I called they offered to meet the new price. I turned them down.

    I dropped long distance several years ago when we got cell phones. I paid a one-time charge of maybe $7 which annoyed the heck out of me but I did it.

    1. Well, Glenda, I guess that probably WILL be it for major re-doing. My Formica counter top is damaged in the kitchen and I'd like to have a new one but that is something we'd have to pay installers to do. Who knows what kind of wild-hair idea I'm going to get next, though? But really, we are getting too old to be wanting to do big-time stuff like this now. Hubs just turned 73 and I've turned 68.

      We don't do as much as it sounds like. We just are persistent. You'd be amazed how much can be done in just a couple of hours of concentrated work. Then it's La-Z-Boy time. Heh.


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