Sunday, March 1, 2015

This 'n' That

The ground outside is covered in snow and the feeding of the birds has begun.
Our recent days of below-freezing temps, snow and ice have meant that Hubs and I don't bother to leave the house.  So work on the living room has stalled out because, at the very least, it requires Hubs to trek out to his workshop.  Plus we need to get some things at Lowe's.  Short of a medical emergency, we will not get out on the highway when the roads are bad.  Even though we don't get snow and ice in the amounts that many people are experiencing, we are plagued by such things as people who don't know how to drive in it, and/or who don't know you must slow down.  We don't get big-deal sanding and plowing, except maybe at the busy intersections, because it's gonna melt all by itself soon, anyway.  Back in the days when earning a paycheck required that we get to work, we had plenty of close calls -- mostly people sliding all the way through an intersection against a red light, powerless to stop.  One of the perks of being retired is that, when you roll out of bed in the morning, if you don't feel like doing anything, you don't have to.  Lots of people think I don't ever have "A Do-Nothing Day", but I do, now and then.  I've never stayed in my jammies all day.  It makes me smile to know I can if I want to though.

So on days like this, we do "This 'n' That".  My dad used to call this "Tinkering".

The seedlings are doing well.  I have replanted several things that did not germinate well.  Some have already come up.  But do any of you ever have seedlings that have "Helmet Head"?  By that I mean, is the seed casing stuck and not allowing the cotyldons to emerge?  I've had this happen quite a bit and have done a little research.  Apparently it's caused by the seeds not being planted deeply enough -- not enough friction on the seed casing.  Others say the soil was too dry at the crucial time.  Misting is suggested, I haven't found that to work very well.  Moistening with spit was also suggested.  I'm trying that.
Ah, good ol' spit!  Did you know also that if you will put spit on fabric that your cut finger bled all over, something under to absorb the residue and something on top to rub the spit in, that the stain will go away?  I've done this many times, and it does work.  It doesn't even have to be spit from the same person that the blood was from.  Doesn't work if you've already run it through the washer, though.

My good buddy, Carole, who lives in Joplin, mentioned putting out white-fly traps and of course I had to know more.  White-flies are those pesky little gnat-like things that seem to proliferate in plants grown inside.  A fast fix is to put the plant outside, and the white-flies leave.  I don't know why, or where they go.  Of course with the weather we've been having that would kill the white-flies AND the plant....  After getting more explanation from her, I went out on Amazon and bought THESE.    I've opened one of the packages and cut it into strips about 1"x3".  They are helping.

I'm sure that, long after humans have been wiped from the face of the earth, there will still be bugs.  They can come out of nowhere.  I mean, I have BAKED MY SOIL, people!  My seedling-starting mix is equal parts composted garden soil, vermiculite and peat.

I entertained myself yesterday by (among other things) making a candle from my collection of stubs that are left over from when all the wick in the candle has burned away.  I hate putting stuff like this in the landfill.  It won't disintegrate until long after I have.  If ever.   Plus, it's a use for an old Pringle's can (pint and quart buttermilk or cream boxes make nice cube-shaped ones).  All I'm out is the wicking, which I bought pretty cheaply at Hobby Lobby.
Just put all your candle chunks in a cleaned-out tall can, like a tomato juice can, something that holds a quart or so, set the can down into a pan of boiling water and let it melt. Prepare your candle form and pour the wax in.  (Note:  If you've gotten the hole in the bottom (that's where your wicking comes out and ends in a knot) too big, it will leak and you will have to do the wax in stages, with visits to the freezer in between stages.  Been there, done that.)  Otherwise, quick, easy, and a free candle.  Save your tomato juice can with whatever wax is left still in it, for next time.  Close up the candle container and it will stay clean in storage.  When ready to use, just tear off the paper container.

I've been rummaging around in the garage and have found several cans / containers of paint that I think I can mix together and get an acceptable color to paint on the living room walls. 

I want a nice soft gray with a slight greenish cast.  I've been playing with this and I think I've got what I want.  I won't have to buy another can of paint and I will be able to use up some that I've been storing for six or seven years.  Plus some bits and tads of some we "inherited", and some colors that I bought for a specific purpose.  I had a can of blue paint that I was tempted to start out with, in order to use it up, but it was exterior paint.  I couldn't think why exterior paint wouldn't be ok to use for interiors but just to be safe, I did some research on it, and turns out exterior paint contains chemicals to retard mildew and to help resist weather conditions.  Apparently exterior paint "off-gasses" more than interior paint does, and for longer periods.  I even saw one post written by a woman whose painting contractor had used exterior paint on the walls of an inside room and long after the paint had dried, they were still noticing a bad smell on days when the humidity was high.  It seems that some painting contractors use exterior paint on interiors because they think it hides better.  So if you hire a painting contractor, make sure they don't do this.  And make sure YOU don't do this.  There might be some health risks from this odor, not to mention the annoyance of having to live in a stinky house.

Paint is one thing I don't buy at garage sales unless they let me open it and see if it will stir up.  If paint has been allowed to freeze, it will not.  The only thing you can do after that is to leave the lid off the paint till it dries hard, and then it's ok to put in with your regular garbage.  Don't take it to those recycling drives where they will take things that should not go to the landfill.  Like electronics, light bulbs, batteries, aerosol cans and paint.  Those people know where to ship these things where they go through the recycling process.  But if the paint has been frozen, they just have to dispose of it, anyway.  If you ever watch Mike Rowe's "Dirty Jobs", maybe you've seen the episode where they are "making" large barrels of paint by emptying out lots of different cans of paint.  A few rules -- oil base and latex do not mix, and light and dark paints are put in a different batches.  When they get their barrel full, they shake it up, pour it into 5-gallon buckets, slap on a lid, label it with a Lot Number (for matching purposes), and that paint is shipped out as donated paint to organizations that can't afford to buy paint.  That's why taking a can of paint that's been frozen to a recycling center is just saddling them with something that has to go to the dump, anyway, and they have to pay for that.  (It's kinda like wrapping up a broken punch bowl as a wedding gift -- the giver can always claim no knowledge of the condition and still appear to have done the socially-correct thing.  But truly, doing something like that just means somebody else has to do that which you should've done, anyway.  And sometimes it backfires.  For instance, the story goes that a man took a box with a broken punch bowl in it to a place like MailBoxes, Inc. for wrapping and shipping, thinking it was a way to get rid of a broken object and that the couple would think it was broken during shipping and therefore not be offended that he didn't send a gift.  When the newlyweds opened the box, they found EACH PIECE of the broken bowl wrapped SEPARATELY!  LOL!

Lacking the ability to get your paint to a recycling center, it's just a better idea to remix it yourself and use it instead of buying new, if you can.

Mixing paint is kind of a fun thing.  You would never think that to tone down blue, you add reddish-brown, and then you have gray or taupe, depending on how far you go with it.  Purple and yellow make brown.  So does orange and blue.  In fact, if you mix all three primary colors, red, yellow, blue, you will get brown.  Add extra blue to the brown and you have black or gray, depending on how much white is in the mix.  And no, green is not a primary color.  It is created from blue and yellow.  Of course we all have some basic knowledge of color-combining from our Crayon and Fingerpaint days, don't we?  Red and blue = purple.  Red and yellow = orange.

I also dug into my stash of elastic from pairs of briefs that Hubs throws away (Tidy Whiteies).  Lots of life left in those.  Sometimes I'll sew one into a waistband when I'm making slacks.  Sometimes I use one in the garden to keep the leaf bag from falling off the rack.  Sometimes I use one around my kitchen trashcan to keep the bag from falling in.  I use a sh-mop that I bought years and years ago, but the washable pads were just made so cheap, the elastic died and the material they were made of fell apart after less than a reasonable amount of use. I was real happy to find some terrycloth ones at Lowe's that fit, a few years ago.  The only problem was that the terrycloth held up well but the elastic has now died.  Next time I need some I'll make 'em myself out of an old towel.  I can make a pattern easily by drawing around the edge of the mop head.  Oh, and did you know you can tape two pencils together and draw the seam allowance at the same time?  Heh!

But in the meantime....

When we lived in The Ponca House, I made extra pads for my Eureka Steam Mop, as there were only two pads that came with it.  I used a piece of an old towel and the waistband from one of the grandson's outgrown sweatpants.  Not very pretty, but gets the job done....
The black and white one is what comes with the steamer.  They look better but they don't work any better than my ol' homemade ones.

I really hate when I hear about high schools eliminating Home-Ec (or whatever they're calling it now) from the curriculum.  My mother didn't have the patience to teach me how to sew.  But after I'd learned to sew in Home-Ec, she allowed me to use her sewing machine and then gave it to me when she bought herself a new one.  My sewing skills have served me well.  Decent sewing machines can be cheaply purchased at garage or estate sales.  You don't have to know the fancy stuff, I think that's what scares people away from learning to sew.  Just the basics will get you through, allow you to make and/or repair many useful things.  Making clothing, for which you have to buy a $10 pattern and then fabric at $8 per yard, is so expensive now that it's just cheaper, and easier, for me to buy what I need at garage sales.  But if I have something that I really like the way it's made, or if I've gotten a really good deal on fabric, sometimes I will make clothing.  Little great-granddaughter's leggings, sweatpants and tops can be made out of the fabric of larger garments, whether they were mine or whether I bought them at garage sales just for the fabric.  The Little Ones don't stay the same size long enough to wear their clothes out.

I made a cover for the brown leather headboard in The Guest Room the other day.  I loved the fabric, and there was blue in it that tied into the blue on the wall, but somehow I don't love the way it looks.  I think it's just too much.  The fabric was in my fabric stash and the backing (against the wall) was taken from an old sheet, so I wasn't out anything but my time.  Maybe I'll make another, out of something else that will work better.

I realize I, and my way of thinking, are confusing for some people.  I do a lot of frugal things.  Things that sometimes set me up for ridicule, such as washing plastic ziplock bags and using them over and over.  I can reconfigure left-overs till the cows come home.  And so on.  Then, every now and then, I go and blow it all on something like expensive upholstered furniture for my living room.  The reason why I pinch the pennies till Lincoln pukes is just so I can do stuff like that.  Does it pay for my spending indiscretions?  Hell if I know.  But here's one thing I do know:  If you have something specific in mind, like a certain shape and a certain color, and good quality to boot, your chances of finding what you want at a garage or estate sale are not very good.  You might end up spending a lot of money, anyway, buying something that's not quite what you want, then finding something that's a little closer and buying that, and on and on.  Just cut to the chase at those times when you know exactly what you want.  Will my new furniture last longer than Hubs and I will?  Probably so.  But it'll stop me from buying couches and over-stuffed chairs at garage and estate sales.  Hubs says that, alone, is worth whatever it costs.

I might paint today.  I need to add some off-white to lighten up my blended paint, and that's what is in the big apple juice bottle.  I'm happy with my blended color otherwise, so this should do it.  But since the can the blended paint is in is already full I'll have to pour it all into a bucket in order to get it mixed, and since I'm going to do that, I might as well get some of it on the wall.  I know that the living room walls will require a little more than a gallon.  I mean, it would defeat my purpose somewhat to run out of paint before all the walls were covered.  Anything left when the job is finished will fit into a cleaned-out peanut-butter jar and can be stored away for touch-ups.  Then I can throw the old can away.   Also maybe clean out the big apple juice bottle and pour some paint that's in a rusted can into it.  Thus throwing away two rusty paint cans.  Use it up, wear it out......  Rocking on, here...  xoxoxo


  1. What a wonderful tip, Ilene. Making mopheads. Thank you. These are hard to find here, and I love the tip with tighty whitey bands.
    I have been out of circulation for a while. Love seeing you blogging. Missed you
    Take care, I am dealing with a bad cold/flu, like I need it, so take care, stay warm.

  2. I miss you too. Are you blogging again? I'd love an update on what's going on with you.

  3. Another great post with good tips. I am not nearly as frugal as when the kids were home. In fact, I have become way too wasteful.

    I love the idea about making mop heads. I hate the removable one on my mop and need to try to do something else. Of course, I still haven't got the machine fixed..........

    Be sure and show us before and after of the paint job.


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