Category Archives: Household

Dancing on the Budgetary Edge

Dancing on the Budgetary Edge

I’m buying a new car.

Not the actual car, but pretty darn close!

Okay, not a NEW car.  I’ll never buy a NEW car.  But this is pretty darn close.  It’s a 2013 Kia Soul, it only has 60K miles on it, and it even has some bells and whistles.  And it’s a manual transmission, which actually makes me happy.

I’d gotten pre-approved for the car loan from my credit union, but after some finagling and confusion, the dealership was able to finance me at a much better rate, so I’m going with that.  The only downside is that I have to pay the tax and title out of pocket.

Cue the financial panic.

I get paid on Friday, and wouldn’t be able to pick the car up before that anyway (punishment for losing the photo card on my license renewal).  But of course this week is mortgage week.  So between the two payments, that takes my ENTIRE paycheck, plus the last of my (admittedly small) emergency savings.

I went ahead with the commitment on the car.  Between the quality of the car and the improved financing, I can’t lose the opportunity.  And I’ve been in tighter financial situations before with less signs of light at the end.  I just have to make it to April 15 when I get paid again.  But I still am panicking and feeling out of control.

I have a couple of different coping strategies in these situations.  My favorite:  I bake.  And then I eat everything I baked.  I’d like to avoid that.  I already can’t fit into my size 12 jeans (thanks, Trump) and I’m committed to doing better on the diet front.  So now I’m cleaning.  Starting with the kitchen.  I’ve spent the morning scrubbing and sweeping, and it’s looking pretty good.

I also made planning and distraction lists in my bullet journal.  First I made an austerity menu.  This coming week is already covered (the joys of 2 week at a time menu planning), so it’s just the next two I have to sweat.  I did pretty well and ended up with only an 8 item shopping list, not counting milk and cereal.  We even only resort to pancakes once!  And that’s more because the kids like it than because I had to do it.  My well stocked freezer is paying off.

Then I made a list of jobs that need to get done.  What I had PLANNED to do for the next few weeks was work on the new garden beds, but the money for lumber and dirt all just went into the car, so that’s a no go.  Instead I’ve just made a list of all the other yard chores we need to get done in advance: Cleaning up the yard, finishing off the bike shed, turning the existing beds, that sort of thing.  Some indoor stuff, too.  All things that need to get done but don’t cost any money.  There’s probably enough there to keep me busy until next pay day.

I had hoped for that weekend to be an orgy of gardening, but RL continues to hold me back.  We’re going to Hershey Park with Rachel, Matt and Uly on the 15th, which will be fun since we’ve never been.  Then the 16th is Easter Sunday, and I’m worship associate at church that day, so there’s half that day, and I’m not sure what will be open anyway.  So I’m going to take Monday and Tuesday off as well.  By that point, I will have earned a couple of personal days, and the kids are still off on Monday for their spring break, so I can impress them into labor.

I can do this.  It will be worth it in the end.  The new car will make up half its monthly payment just in the gas I’m going to save.  And I’m hanging onto the van until I get all the dirt and lumber home that I need (I’m going to miss being able to haul anything I need or find curbside whenever I want!), but hopeful after that I can sell it and restock my emergency funds.

Life on the edge, baby.  Gotta know how to do that dance.

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Jack of All

Jack of All

One thing I’ve heard a LOT in the week since coming home from Rhinebeck: “You knit/spin?  Wow, that’s a dying art!”

Well, 6 million knitters might argue with that.  But I get what they’re saying.

But honestly, it’s hardly the only dying art.  So many things that our grandparents took for granted are forgotten skills now. Car repairs, home repairs, small appliance repairs, all these little things we just don’t know how to do in our disposable age.  I don’t remember ever seeing my parents change their car oil or fix a toaster.  Not that they didn’t, I just never saw it, and it wasn’t something they taught me or my siblings.

Today I ran up against one of those things.

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As the weather gets colder, the kids have been nagging me about turning on the heat.  But I refuse to do it until I get all the windows sealed for the winter.  Living in an old house as we do, there are a lot of drafts, especially out all the original windows.  Replacing the windows would be ideal, but totally out of my budget.  Instead I put shrink plastic on them all every fall and hope for the best.  Xander has a tendency to take a sharp edge to the one in his room every year, despite my threats.  The worst offenders are the windows in our back laundry room, though.  I hate these windows, and one of my long term goals has always been to replace them.  One of the windows won’t stay shut properly, and two of the panes have had chunks broken out of them for years now, which have been patched as best as possible with packing or duct tape.  And the frames are so old and peeling so that the tape for the plastic won’t stick to them.  In a “Give a Mouse a Cookie” moment, I decided repainting the frames would at least fix that problem, so I dug out the oil primer, dusted off the frames, pried off some old hardware, and handed Morgan the paintbrush.  As always, a lick of paint made such a difference!  But it made the broken panes stand out even more.  I was going to just seal them up with silicone, or replace them with plexiglass.  Except one pane of plexi that size (12″ by 24″) was $15!!!  So no.  In a fit of “I can do it myself”, I got glass cut the right size, picked up glazing points and window compound and took a stab at it.

Remember, I have never seen anyone do this outside of a home improvement show.

First off I had to get the glass out.  Seemed like the easiest way to do so was to break them and pull the pieces out.  I put on gloves, got a hammer and a dish towel, and gave the first one a whack.  It didn’t break.  WTF?  Tried again.  Bounce.  FIVE TIMES I tried to break it before it actually went.  Who can’t break a window with a hammer?  This girl, apparently.  Because the second one took me 8 goes!!  Ridiculous.  Finally got it all out and pried out the glazing points and most of the dead glazing compound.  Then I painted all the exposed edges with the oil primer and went to make bread.

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Once that had dried, it was time for the scary stuff!  The two windows face opposite directions, so one I could do from the inside, but the other I had to go out on a step stool to place the glass.  I had Morgan come out with me to hold the glass in place while I set the glazing points.  No dropsies!  It was hard to smooth out the glazing compound properly just because of angles and that stupid top window that wouldn’t stay shut, and I’d left just enough of the old compound in that the glass didn’t sit quite flush.  Grumble.  But it was in place and sealed, although I did have to back fill a little from the inside.  The other pane went in easier, as I wasn’t teetering on the top of a step stool.

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Neither were a perfect job, but it’s still better than it was.  I can already feel a difference in there!

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It’s hard sometimes to get the confidence to try to do these things yourself.  They’ve built up such a lot of baggage as being too hard to do yourself.  But don’t be scared.  Just like knitting skills are being preserved on YouTube, so too are repair skills.  Check out a couple of videos and then bravely go forth.

After all, glass is cheap.

Back to Reality

Back to Reality

Okay, yes, I missed a day.  But to be fair, it was a long drive back from New York, and then I had to dive straight back into mom mode to get the kids to church for youth group at 6.  And the allergy attack I’d been suffering turned out to probably not be allergies after all.  Am now suffering what feels like a moderately obnoxious cold.  My sinuses are stuffed enough to make my teeth hurt.

Had to get up early this morning to take the kids to school, and figured since I was up anyway, I might as well get the grocery shopping out of the way.  Wise choice, as the store was pretty much empty and I was able to get cold medicine and throat drops as well.  Came home, unpacked everything, and then felt perfectly justified in crawling back into bed for the rest of the day to sleep and haunt realty websites looking for my farm-to-be.

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Anyone got $150,000 they’d like to invest?

Mini(van) Victories

Mini(van) Victories

I fixed my car last night.

This wasn’t a check the fluids/change the windshield wipers kind of repair, either.  This was ELECTRICAL.  Scary, scary stuff, right?

Well, not really.  But scary enough for this newbie.

Last week, the heater in the van stopped working.  Mostly.  I could still get heat out of it, but only if I had the fan on high.  So either I was freezing or melting.  Not good when it’s only February and you’re expecting at least two good storms over the next few months.  But I really didn’t have the money to get it fixed.  As usual when I’m desperate, I turned to the internet.  A search of “Grand Caravan heat only on high” turned up a bunch of YouTube videos and a post on the Car Talk website.  “It’ll cost $600 to get it fixed” was the first thing I saw.  Bleah.  But the responses were all opposed to this.  Everyone else in the discussion said this was a common problem with Grand Caravans and that it was the heater blower regulator, a $12 part and an easy self-fix.  Well, easy for them, think I, but for $12, it’s worth taking the chance on, right?  At least I’ll already have the part when I have to take the car in for the repair.

Found the part on Amazon for $11.95.  Once again my Prime membership pays for itself.  Ordered it on Friday (along with a tart pan, three springform pans and The Force Awakens soundtrack), and it came on Saturday.  I was running around too much over the weekend to do the repair then, so when I got home from work last night, I went back to those YouTube videos and started watching.  Once I got past all the scary testing instructions (I don’t have a multimeter.  Not sure I want one.  Seems like a good way to get myself electrocuted.), I found out that yes, it is easy.  There are two sets of wires going into the unit, both in clips like what you clip the ethernet cable into your computer with, and then two hex screws.  One of the videos even told me the size of the hex, 8 mm.  Now, I don’t have metric hexes in my tool bag.  The ones I have are all imperial.  But you know where I do have hex heads?  In my mini bike repair kit.  Sure enough, there was the 8 mm, so out I went with that, the replacement part and a headlamp so I could see what I was doing.

And you know what?  It WAS easy!

Took me five minutes.  If that.  The hardest part was getting the motor power cord out without pulling the wires out.  That sucker did not want to come out, but after 10 years, who could blame it?  Other than that, it was easy out, easy in, plugged everything back in, turned the key and voila!  And it was so satisfying to have fixed it myself!  Especially since I saved myself so much money.  Even if it was only $150, it was still more than I had to spend, and really, considering how easy this was?  It would have been a little embarrassing.

I think maybe the bike repair class helped me with more than just learning how to fix bikes.  I think it gave me a bit more confidence at fixing anything.  I still don’t regret the $200 I spent to get the washer professionally fixed, because they were able to get the housing back on properly which I haven’t been able to do for 3 years, but I did have the confidence to look it up, find out what the problem probably was and decide no, I couldn’t do it, rather than go into it ignorant and vulnerable.  You don’t have to know how to fix everything, but knowing how to fix anything makes you a little braver in taking a stab at other things.

I did get new windshield wipers this weekend, too.  But I let the clerk at the auto parts store put them on for me.  Because I’m lazy and it was free.

I got the title for the van in the mail last week.  I guess it’s all mine now.  Which yay!  But also eek.  Small voice is saying, “You could get financing to get a new, smaller car now…”  Not yet, brain.  Not yet.

The rear windshield wiper has stopped working.  I should go look that up.  Maybe it’s just a fuse…

Coming Up For Air

Coming Up For Air
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Random cat picture. I don’t talk about him in the post, but isn’t he handsome?

Rising to the surface briefly to report that I am not dead.  Yay!  By way of summary:
  1. I started actually training on the new job last week.  Hurrah!  I think once I master it, it will be good, but right now it’s terribly frustrating.  I’m slow and stumbling and I hate not being good at things.  But everyone on the new team is really nice (and young!  ZOMG, so young…), and there’s lots of room for me to develop once I get the basics down, so I just have to be gentle with myself for the next few months.
  2. The washing machine is fixed.  To the tune of $210 dollars.  Ouch.  But worth it.  The technician was worried about my water supply (it leaks a few drops an hour) and my hoses.  I can replace the hoses myself easily enough.  The water supply…well, that will keep for now.  But I realized that this washing machine is the one we bought when we moved into the house 18 years ago.  It’s done very well by us!
  3. Speaking of fixing things, I finished my bike repair class last night.  What a great class!  I can now change tires, replace brake and derailleur cables, and even disassemble and rebuild wheel hubs!  If you have a bike in the Delaware Valley, I highly recommend taking this class and/or checking out Bike Church at the Neighborhood Bike Works.  What a great resource!
  4. I broke my toe.  Yes, on the same foot.  I think it’s cursed.  Not much to do about this one, though, except wait it out.  Which means no running.  Considering the state of the roads, that isn’t as much of a hardship as it was this summer.
  5. I’ve been watching way too much Great British Bake Off.  This is a bad thing.  I’ve put on an additional 3 pounds.  There may be eclairs in the near future.  There will definitely be a blog post.
  6. The payment deadline for Hero’s trip is getting closer.  GAH!!!  In a fit of panic, I started a fundraising campaign on RallyUp to help raise money for those last payments.  If you’re one of the few people who I haven’t force-fed this campaign, please go and check it out, and donate if you can or just share it on social media if you can’t.  We’re about a third of the way to our goal with 6 weeks until the final payments.  In the meantime, she’s selling frozen pizzas and will be working the next few months on making and selling hoagies at school.  She’s had to give up art club for the foreseeable future to do it, but I think/hope this drives home that you need to sacrifice sometimes to get the things you want.  Growing up is hard, yo.
  7. We’re getting ready for a houseguest from Germany next week.  Morgan’s boyfriend is coming over so the two of them can go to a convention in NYC next weekend.  Not only will it be the first time we’ve met him, it will be the first time he and Morgan will meet in person.  I’m both nervous and excited for Morgan, and want to do what I can to help make a good impression on his behalf.  So this week we are cleaning the house within an inch of its life.  And trying not to think about what young men in love are thinking about.  Having your kids grow up is hard, yo.
  8. I have the beginnings of a new book poking at me.  Shh, we don’t want to scare it.
I think that’s it for now.  Updates as they arise!

The Bench

The Bench

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So, this is the bench.  Isn’t it cute?  Simple, but with some nice wood turning.  Well worn but not too beat ups.  The finish is worn, but there aren’t any gouges or chipped off pieces.  Just a nice, sturdy little piece.

Taffy likes it, too.

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Actually, all the rabbits like it.  Not sure why.  I guess it’s just the right height for them.

Obviously the seat needed to be recovered, but I wanted to do something about the finish as well.  Not strip it, because I didn’t want to lose the look, but just filling in the pale spots.  I had some red mahogany stain in the basement from when I stained my spinning wheel, so I decided to just give the whole thing a coat of that and then a coat of wax.  I gathered my materials and got to work.

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I didn’t take enough pictures of the process, because it got downright funny at times.  The stain went on in about 5 minutes, then I washed up and got to work on the seat.  Loki and Sam were both in, and they wanted to help with that.  I don’t know what was in the old fabric, but they both kept chewing on it like it was the best thing they’d ever eaten.  I got that and the padding off easily (it just came apart as I tugged on it) and then got down to prying out the brads that had held it in place.  That was not so easy, and did end up drawing blood a couple of times, as I had to pry them out with a screwdriver.  It didn’t help that Sam was still going for the fabric which I was using the catch the tacks while Loki was using the board itself as a sliding board.  Talk about being double teamed!

Once that was all cleaned up, I set the foam in place, lined up the fabric and started stapling.  I maybe should have gotten a slightly larger piece of foam or some batting to wrap it in, because even with pulling the fabric tight before I stapled it, there’s still a bit of hollow space around the edges.  But otherwise it looks great.  The paisleys in the fabric centered really nicely.

I wiped off the extra stain and then let it sit overnight.  Then Monday I applied the wax.  Just one coat, enough to seal in the new stain without diminishing the aged quality of the old varnish.  Then it was just a matter of screwing the seat back in place and taking the “after” pictures!

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I have just enough of the fabric left that if I was a decent seamstress, I would love to make it into a little box bag with buttoned straps to attach to one arm and keep my spinning notions in.  But other than that, it’s just absolutely perfect.  For $1 (plus $25 in materials.  Oops.) I have a perfect little spinning bench!

Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business

This was my first weekend out of the boot, and much to my surprise, it ended up being brilliant.

My first stop Saturday morning was physical therapy.  This was my first time ever doing PT, so I really had no idea what to expect.  But it’s a really nice center, and the team there was great.  I’m working with Mike.  He did all my baselines and tested my function, which he said was actually really good.  I credit it to cheating and doing stretches while still in the boot.  He did say both my feet are hypermobile, so we’re working on strengthening both of them.  Well, in the office we’re working on strengthening the broken one, but at home I’m doing the same exercises on the other side as well.  It actually didn’t hurt much, and it’s not as big a set of exercises as I’d expected.  Mike doesn’t think I’ll have to do more than an couple of weeks, which is good because it costs me $20 a pop even with my insurance.  I did find out they do gait analysis there as well, so once I get approved for running (and save up the $250), I’ll do that 6 week program to keep this from happening again.

Hero was sleeping over at a friend’s house, so I stopped off to pick her up.  Since we were out already, I took her with me to Horsham to see about getting my phone fixed.  About 3 weeks ago, the camera quit on me.  I just kept getting “Camera failed” messages.  I’d had that before and had been able to fix it, but this time no go.  Which is part of why I haven’t been blogging much the last few weeks.  Blog posts without pictures are kind of dull!  And then the charger stopped working.  It hadn’t been working well for a while, occasionally not connecting unless I jiggered it just so.  But then it started shifting into car mode, which no one could give me a good explanation of what that was.  Something to do with docking it, but since a) I didn’t have a dock and 2) it was doing this randomly and sometimes constantly in and out, it was making the phone pretty much unusable.  I’d taken it to a guy in town, who hemmed and hawed and wanted $75/hour while sounding very unsure of what the problem was.  Yeah, nope.  This place in Horsham is part of a chain, so I thought I’d at least give them a try.  Totally worth it.  He knew exactly what the problem was (apparently it was pretty common for these phones) and he thought he could fix it without replacing the port.  $55 if he did, $35 if he didn’t.  Sold!  And he said he’d diagnose the camera at the same time.  I couldn’t afford to get it fixed that day, but at least then we could plan.  3 hours later, it was fixed.  Not only did they not need to replace the port, they’d also fixed the camera!  Apparently there was water damage in it, which confused me, as I hadn’t spilled anything on it.  In the end we both think it was sweat from carrying it running.  Which I can believe.  So I’ll have to find a different way to rig that.

On our way back from dropping off the phone, we noticed one of the churches up the street from us was having a rummage sale, and some of their neighbors were taking advantage of it to have a yard sale of their own.  I hadn’t gotten to go yard saling all summer, plus I love poking around in churches (a hold over from my childhood), so we stopped to check it out.

Well.  Did we ever score.

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At the rummage sale, Hero found this great floor seat that is on rockers and reclines for $4.  I found gold cut lace valences that match the new dining room paint and a dozen black napkins, all for $2.  And best of all, I found a hand cranked meat grinder with 3 grind plates and the original package insert from the 40’s for $5.  Homemade sausage, here I come!

The yard sale across the street was even better.  They had antiques.  Real, genuine antiques.  Not high end stuff, but still.  Just my favorite kind of stuff, old and sturdy.  One of the pieces was what must have been the seat to a vanity.  Just a simple bench with rolled arms.  It was missing the crossbrace and desperately needed reupholstering, but my mind instantly shouted, “Spinning stool!”  I braced myself as I asked how much they wanted for it.  When she said a dollar, I think I threw the money at her trying to pay her so fast.  And we found a running hydration belt.  It was a really good Nathan belt, still with the tags on it.  I’ve been researching these, so I knew these went for $55-65.  They were selling it for $1.50.  Again with the money throwing.

So I ended Saturday dead chuffed.  I made pancakes for the kids for dinner and ribs for me and started planning how I would recover the bench.

There’s a Joann’s about a mile and a half from our house, so the Sunday morning plan was to go get fabric and foam.  But I wanted to ride my bike.  Mike had told me I could ride as much as I wanted, and I’d taken Galadriel out for a warm up ride around the parking lot across from the house, just to get used to everything, so I figured a bike shop would be perfect.  Hero decided to go with me, as Joann’s is right next to 2nd Avenue, our favorite place for used clothes, so off we went.  The ride was not bad.  I was able to get up the Insurmountable Hill (my initial motivator for getting a lighter bike) with only a little huffing and puffing.  At that point the main road made me nervous, so we decided to risk the sidewalk.  Except the sidewalk through there was TERRIBLE.  I just about jarred my teeth loose.  First cross street we came to, I bailed and went the long way around.  But she rode sweet, and I didn’t have any problems with the gears or shifting.

At Joann’s, I found a great upholstery fabric that echoed the original fabric the stool had had, which ended up being 40% off, and the dense cell foam I got was half off as well.  Woot!  I also got buttons I need to finish up a knitting project (which I should get back to knitting on, actually).  I managed to keep it together in 2nd Ave.  Got another pair of running capris and an awesome pair of Clarks shoes, all for under $20, while Hero got some costume pieces for about the same.  Just for grins we stopped in the dollar store as well, and I scored the best trick or treat handouts ever.  Glow in the dark vampire teeth.  I bought 4 dozen.  No candy at our house this year, but I don’t think the kids will mind!

The best part?  It all strapped to the back of my bike.

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The ride home was a little more problematic.  I took the chance of riding in the street on the main road, which meant going up the back side of the Insurmountable Hill, which is even worse than the first side.  I made it to the top on my last gear (barely), and in celebration, I slammed the shifter all the way up…and threw my chain in the middle of traffic.  Lesson learned.

I’ll save the refinishing tale for its own post, but needless to say it was an incredibly satisfying weekend.  The hunter-gatherer in my soul was much pleased!

The Other Weekend Project

The Other Weekend Project

I got a new pantry.

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Well, technically, no.  I didn’t add on to the house or anything.  But moving the rabbits out gave me a shelf back, and thanks to the wonders of Freecycle, I got a new freezer.

A big freezer.

A semi-orgasmic big freezer. (Yes, I’m weird.)

You guys probably remember my old chest freezer from my freezer cooking post a couple of weeks ago.

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Seriously not of the large.  I think it was about 7 cubic feet, most of that downwards.  So it wouldn’t hold a lot, but it also was really hard to use.  If I wanted something on the bottom, I had to empty everything out of it onto the washer and dryer, get what I needed, and then load it all back in again.  I lost a pound and a half of Italian sausage last week because I missed them on reloading and they sat out for three days.  Ew.

Frustrated by that loss, I decided to take a chance and put a request out on Freecycle.  For those of you not familiar with this, Freecycle is a local group-based exchange community where people who need something or people have something to get rid of post their items and see if anyone else needs or has them.  The only catch is it has to be free.  No fees, no bartering, FREE.  In the past, I found a new family for my old piano and got a full brewing kit for Nikki.  I haven’t had as much luck recently trying to get things people had posted, to the point where I was wondering if my account was messed up.  But I took a chance and put out a request for an upright freezer, minimum 13 sq. ft.

A week later, I got a response.

Of course, it was right in the middle of the 4H chaos, but I didn’t want to risk losing it, so I said of course we would come Friday night.  I ran home after work, the boys took the seats out of the van, and off we all went.  It was only about 20 minutes from the house.  The lady was waiting for us when we got there.  She was so nice.  Apparently her husband had worked in the meat industry and was a big carnivore, so the freezer was his.  But he’d passed away recently, and she didn’t need it, so my post was incentive for her.  And OMG, this thing was BEAUTIFUL.  Big enough to put a couple of bodies in!  And pristine.  Only 5 years old, so definitely more efficient than my old beast.  She had a dolly, so we got it in the van lickety split.  She even gave us a big bag of meat as well.  She said she was just feeding it to her dogs, which was a waste, so of course I took it!

We drove home, Xander getting only a little squished in the back.  But when we got there, I realized we DON’T have a dolly.  So getting it into the house became trickier.  We slid it out of the van, which worked great until the cardboard I was using as a skid slid out, exposing the trunk latch, which gouged the hell out of the side of the freezer.  So much for pristine.  We managed to get it up on the porch, but then I was stymied.  It just wasn’t going to fit through the door.  But I had to leave in 45 minutes to get Hero from the fair, so I sent a desperation text to Eric.  I got lucky, and he came over fairly quickly, took the door off the freezer (I have to learn how to do that) and he and Xander moved it in while I emptied the old one.  The new one wasn’t going to fit in the old space, though, so I cleared some of the stuff off the pantry shelves and swept up all the rabbit poo, and we did a quick rearrange.  Then they put the freezer in, I slammed all the frozen stuff into the new freezer, and ran off to get the girl.

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Look at that.  That is everything you saw in the picture of the old freezer AND half the stuff from the fridge freezer.  And it’s still not even half full! I’m absolutely giddy.

Saturday was spent at the fair, so I didn’t get to do much, so Sunday was cleaning day.  I did a bunch of laundry to clear the decks, and had Hero shopvac up the rest of the rabbit litter (Taffy is a slob).  Then I reorganized the shelves, as the back end isn’t as convenient as the front end now.  But that’s okay.  I’ve put the long term storage items on that end and the things I use all the time on the end closer to the kitchen door.  I also got a couple of 5 gallon buckets.

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Two of these are filled as labeled (I’ll get the sugar the next time I get paid).  These will go on the bottom shelf, along with new bins for potatoes and onions as soon as I get them.  I feel a little like a prepper, but it really does feel good to have this stuff on hand.

The weirdest think I’m happy about?  I have ice cubes.  I have never had room in my freezers to keep ice cubes on hand.  Whenever I’ve needed them for a party or anything, I’ve had to go out and buy a bag.  But now I have a bin in the door of the big freezer, and I just keep making up trays and dumping them in the box.  Xander’s already gotten in the habit of adding them to his drinks.  It’s such a little thing, but it just feels so good.  And we realized we can actually keep ice cream on hand (assuming I can keep the boys from stealing it all).  We never could because again, just no room.  I’m just… No words.

So my next project:  Making and freezing half a dozen pizzas.  I have room for them now, and it will give me a no cook night!

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I had four non-related teenagers in my house overnight last weekend (Hero had friends over for a sleepover-turned-slumber-party).  It was chaos.  Loud and intrusive and messy (I found pizza crusts on the game shelf three days later), and one of the kids dissed Benedict Cumberbatch IN MY HOME (GASP!).  Not my sense of a harmonious household.  But they had a great time, and that was all that mattered.  Although when Hero asked if they could do it again this weekend, I answered with a resounding, “Aw HELL no!”  Maybe in January.

The interesting thing to me, though, was one of the compliments Hero got afterwards.  She got the “Your mom/family is so cool”, which I was grateful for, as that was always a life goal.  Your kids will never think you’re cool, but if their friends do, you’re doing something right.  But one of them told her, “Your house is so calm and peaceful.”  Which it certainly hadn’t felt at the time.  But I’ve heard that before.  My mother likes to come visit me for exactly that reason.  She has called it grounded space, and peaceful, which I could never credit, as at the time I had three chaotic pre-teens and a disaster of a house.

I’ve been thinking ever since about what it is that I/we do that makes the energy of the place what it is.  It’s not a sound thing.  There are often video games playing on the TV at the same time I’m listening to music in the kitchen, although I do make anyone else use headphones.  And we’re always shouting to each other (and sometimes at each other).  Now that the house is clean, I don’t have that stress lingering and the visual noise is way down.  I don’t do a lot of ritual work to ground or protect the place, other than charging the house guardian on dusting days.

And yet somehow, it is exactly what they described.  Calm in the face of chaos.  Grounded while we’re scattered around.  Peaceful when the world around us is in upheaval.

I was talking to Hero about this, and she was worried that if/when we move, we’ll lose that.  I promised her (safely, I think), that wherever we go, we’ll make a home the same way we made this one.  Safe and sheltered.

I’m not sure how, but I know we will.