Around the House

Reinventing The Wheel

Or, Been There, Done That

Not that long ago I had a conversation with a friend who is older than me that really struck a chord. She had been commenting that one of her grandchildren was spending a lot of time on the Internet to learn how to do something rather than take advantage of the knowledge base that surrounded her. As in parents, grandparents, friends, etc.

As we talked about this situation, it occurred to me that all of us at some time or other took advantage of the ‘new’ methods of information gathering rather than making use of the old tried and true.

The current crop of youngsters (?) uses Pinterest and the Internet or YouTube experts. And I use the word ‘expert’ with a grain of salt. Pick your particular expert with care. Some really haven’t a clue while others are very skilled and good teachers.

The thing is every generation has literally, okay figuratively, reinvented the wheel.

DISCLAIMER: Not everyone has people in their family or circle who have a knowledge of tools and processes. This means that while the idea of going to Great Aunt Hattie to find out how to do something might be good, the reality is that she has no clue.

My parents bought their first home after World War II and spent years renovating it. The following generation bought their first homes and, you guessed it, spent years renovating it. Rinse and repeat.

While the resources for the information on how to do certain projects have changed – as have the tools and materials – the reality is that each group has found a slightly more advanced and modern way to do the various jobs.

As much as we would like to believe that no one has come before us, the reality is that we are just following in the footsteps of those who stumbled along finding their way with the help of the latest experts that were available to them.

The trick is to take the time to learn from those old time experts and see how what they teach can be used today. Providing, of course, it isn’t already in use.

It really doesn’t matter if you are renovating or building a home, delving into gardening, learning to cook or preserve food, embarking on a life long journey in any of many crafts or just sitting back to see how things are done, chances are what you will discover is that we’ve been down that road more than once.

Enjoy the ride – and don’t forget to take notes!

Resources

In no particular order…

  • Pinterest
  • Internet
  • YouTube
  • Local Library
  • Local School
  • Local Hardware
  • Neighbors
  • Family
  • Friends
Cooking · Food

Magic Pantry Strikes Again!

Hot Dogs. Pork and Beans. Cornbread

This family favorite is a combination of budget friendly, kid friendly, time friendly foods.

Last week I stocked some items in my pantry that would be easy to fix if the weather turned (it did) and things got a bi dicey. Frankly, I got several bits of comfort foods that I don’t normally buy, but they have made wonderful meals while the weather outside was awful.

This recipe is not quite corndogs, not quite beans and franks, not quite … and a bit of all of them.

Beans, Dogs, and Corn Bread

Not quite corn dogs and more than beans and hot dogs with a side of corn bread.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Equipment

  • 1 8 x 8 square baking pan

Ingredients

  • 15 ounce Pork and beans
  • 1 package hot dogs
  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray pan with baking spray.
  • Slice the hot dogs and place them in the baking pan. Cover with the pork and beans.
  • Combine the milk, egg, and cornbread mix as per the instructions on the box. Pour the mixture over the beans and hot dogs in the baking pan.
  • Bake until the top is brown and tests done using a toothpick.
    Be sure to insert the toothpick as close to the bottom of the pan as possible.

Notes

This quick and easy pantry recipe will be a hit for anyone who loves hot dogs, pork and beans, or cornbread. 
It is easy on the budget too, because you don’t need to purchase expensive ingredients to make a wonderful meal.
The beans and hotdog mixture will keep the batter from baking quickly, so it is important to check for doneness before you serve.

You can easily double or triple this recipe just be sure to use a baking dish that is big enough and to allow enough time for the batter to cook through.

Classic TV · Cord Cutting · Media · TV

Why I Won’t Give Up My Library

I have a rather interesting collection of books, DVDs, LPs, CDs, and even VHS tapes. I have no plans to get rid of them, either. Why? Simple, not everything moves to another format or platform and, as we have seen with some of the streaming platforms, some material has been removed.

I’ve had a hard and fast rule in my house regarding the DVDs and VHS tapes that I purchase. They have to be shows or films I want to watch more than once or it doesn’t come home with me. I simply do not have the space. That being said, I haven’t ventured to purchase TV shows or films that remain in the cloud until I choose to watch it. You never know when access to that particular service might end.

Hey, things happen.

The simple truth is that the only way to maintain such a collection is to actually make choices. I am looking to find an adapter that will allow me to use my DVD and VHS players with my TV. In the meantime, I still have an old hybrid (analog/digital) TV that I can use with those machines.

The issue with any type of collection is storage and maintenance. If you are able and willing, you can accumulate all sorts of things. For me the most important question is what I mentioned above, how much I might want to watch.

While it might seem silly, I do have things that I have yet to find on any streaming service and are no longer available for home use. Not even on YouTube. Yeah, amazing, I know. LOL!

While there have been times when some folks would have just dumped the collection and moved on, I’ve been thankful and grateful that I still had my library. For me it has been worth the price.

Sometimes you really just need to spend some time with old favorites, right?

Bingeworthy · TV

Throwback TV: Cro

Way back in the 1990s, when ABC TV still had a Saturday Morning Cartoon line up, Cro was a favorite of mine.

Produced by the Children’s Television Workshop – the same folks who produced Sesame Street – Cro focused on a group of characters who showed problem solving. While that might not sound all that exciting, the series took a collection of interesting characters, set in an unusual time period, and tossed in the time travel trope to capture the interest of a young audience. Or, in my case, a not so young audience.

You can learn more about Cro by clicking HERE. You can watch the episodes by going to YouTube and searching for Cro ABC, which will bring you to a couple of collections of the episodes in addition to individual episodes.

I found this gem on YouTube recently and found myself revisiting Phil and Dr. C, not to mention Cro and his friends and family. The stories are interesting, the topic is presented in a captivating manner, and the fun is the twist on animal intelligence.

Sadly, the series is not available on DVD, or it would be on my shelf. Like The Magic School Bus, it is one of those wonderful series that combines great viewing with great learning without your being aware that you actually have learned something. 🙂

Check it out!

Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: Vesuvius at Night

Vesuvius by Night by Lindsey Davis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I finally (!!) picked this up on Audible.com and am I glad I did.

If you are a follower of the Falco series, you should know at least one of the main characters. If you aren’t it won’t matter. The difference, at least for me, is that I remembered that person from when he was a lot younger, more nieve, and a bit adventurous. It mattered.

I’ve studied what happened at Pompeii a lot in the past couple of years, but I have to admit that there was a head-slap moment when I realized that there was more than one way out of town, and it did not involve the water. [ Insert head-slap.] Yeah, it just never occurred to me. The other point is that apparently the majority of people started leaving early on. Call it a memory of the earthquake that almost destroyed the town a few years before. Archeologists have found many buildings still under repair from that earthquake.

All that being said, this was a powerful piece that resonated long after I finished listening.

This one will stay with you a bit and I think you will recall it if/when you watch any Pompeii walkthrough tours.



View all my reviews

Around the House

Inspiration

I’m a huge fan of all sorts of interior design and DIY shows, videos, magazines, and such. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t take advantage of all sorts of ways to figure out options, consider new colors, contemplate furniture styles, and best of all, file away the best of the best for future use. Because I always knew that I’d have the opportunity to make use of them someday.

I know lots of folks love Pinterest and gather all their ideas from there, but I’ve found that often those ideas are repeats of repeats of repeats. Not always a bad thing but … there is room for change. I appreciate Better Homes & Gardens in Australia, now found on YouTube as Great Home Ideas, as ways to look at things a little differently. Bang on Budget from the UK gives a lot of value in seeing options when it comes to budget driven renovations.

What are my favorite ideas?

Overall, my favorite idea is to make the space your own rather than design for resale. This is important especially because you are living in the space. While you might actually sell the place, or move out, at some later date, you are actually occupying a space that should make you feel comfortable, provide a calm and hopefully peaceful space right now.

This means incorporating colors you like in spaces you will see them often. One of my favorite things is to see colorful tiles in the kitchen or bath. While white is a great option, why not up your game by adding color? It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, in fact it could be quite subtle. The point is to make choices that make you happy. You live there, right?

If you aren’t up to replacing tiles, why not look at options for peel and stick tiles? You can find vinyl options (similar to contact paper) in many spaces. These can be quite useful for renters – just be sure to check to make sure they are easy to apply and remove before you apply to the entire area. Also know that they might not have a long life in the area you use them. Things to consider!

Get creative with items you can find in hardware stores. For example: Engineer Your Space created a papered feature wall in her bedroom using cardboard sheets designed to protect floors during construction. You can see her process on YouTube.

If you are inexperienced with tools – particularly power tools – check to see if your local hardware store offers classes to learn how to use them. Check your local schools or colleges, too. And, before you get too uncomfortable with the idea, contemplate the power tools that probably occupies space in your kitchen: your blender, food processor, Instant Pot, and the like.

Yeah, it is an odd thought to consider them ‘power tools’ but when you get down to it, a power tool is something that requires electricity to run. Sewing machines, irons, electric skillets, etc., etc. 😀

Sometimes the best thing you can do to gather inspiration is to find decorators whose style is close to yours. I love to find those folks who don’t get stuck in one design type (farmhouse, Boho for example) because they can often look at items you wouldn’t necessarily think of in ways that could totally make a space.

In times when money is limited (and really, when it is not?), making use of as many resources to find ways of saving money while creating spaces that enrich our lives is essential. This can also mean learning to reuse and recycle what we already have. It is astounding the impact of a can of paint on pretty much everything. Taking it up a notch, look at refinishing furniture. You don’t have to dive into a huge project, you can keep it simple with an easy to do paint finish. Have a chat with the expert at your local hardware store. You might be shocked to discover just how easy – and inexpensive – the process can be.

Inspiration comes from a variety of sources. We tuck them away on our phones, Pinterest accounts, in binders. Courage to take the steps to try those ideas shouldn’t impede our desires to make our homes our own. Create a home that you want to live in, not the person who buys it years from now. They will redecorate to meet their own preferences anyway. Providing, of course, you actually do sell or move on.

My absolute favorite renovation house project has been Ariel Bissett’s Updated House Tour. Two years in her new home, this tour shows not only her creative side, but also the reality of a reno project. I love her style, her use of color, her courage to learn as she goes, and, of course, the pleasure of the results.

Enjoy!

Around the House

Back to Nermal, er Normal

I have been enjoying the return to what is laughingly referred to as normal. Actually, it is more nermal – that state of almost but not quite the norm.

Everyone I’ve talked to has had the same comment: With the holidays on the weekends, everything has been out of whack. While we have had beginning of week holidays to help out with the holiday on Sunday issue, it still hasn’t felt quite…celebratory.

Finally, however, things are returning to their usual time frames. My YouTubers are once again posting videos per their regular schedules. My bloggers are back on track, too. The holiday preparations and decorations are finished and back in their respective storage spots for another year. In other words, back to normal.

One thing I’ve noticed with this shift into a new year is the efforts of many to make changes in their homes. Some are working on projects to make their spaces more user friendly while removing clutter, and adding organization. Some are completing projects that, for one reason or another, were put on hold. These are not wholesale heavy effort, expensive, or time consuming projects. They are often little things that kept being put off until ‘later’ or small projects that really don’t take much time after the thinking-it-through process has been completed.

Personally, I’m updating my crafting supplies with items that I need – ‘need’ as in basics, not ‘need’ as in gotta-have-that. I’m also reviewing my audiobooks to determine who or what I want to listen to next. We are at that mid-point in the TV season where many series have had their break and are ready to return, and a few series aren’t quite ready for their season returns. It is hard to wrap my head around the reality that May is not that far away.

A new year often brings thoughts of resolutions and renewal. I’m not one for resolutions; I make my changes as I go and I know myself well enough to not create problems for myself. Small changes, little updates, all work to create improvements.

It is, quite literally, a return to nermal. Er, normal. Whatever.

Happy New Year!

Cooking

A Little Something Extra

When I was a kid, convenience foods were not common in our home. It was an EVENT when store bought TV dinners or pot pies were on the table. I emphasize ‘store bought’ because my mom would save the aluminum foil pans to make her own and tuck them away in the freezer.

Now, when I’m looking for a touch of comfort food, I enjoy the occasional store bought pot pie or even a TV dinner.

The other night I found myself contemplating tucking one of those delicious pot pies into the oven. As I recalled the lovely end result (hey, to each his/her own) I remembered that I have a pot of rice in the fridge. Hmmm. Could I?

I did!

When I put the pot pie into the oven to bake, I took about a cup of the rice out and put it on the bowl I would serve the pot pie in. When the pot pie was done, I turned it out over the rice. Yum!

The rice soaked up the extra gravy and also bulked out the meal a bit. Maybe a bit over the top, but on a cold winter day this toasty tasty meal hit just the right note.

Why not treat yourself to a touch of comfort food and step it up a notch by adding something a little extra?

Enjoy!

Around the House · Musings · YouTube

One Thing Really Does Lead To Another

Around Here

I thought a great way to start a brand new year would be to take a look at some of the things/people/whatever that caught my attention and tell you about it.

Algorithms are interesting things. They bring to your attention things you never knew existed while providing you food for further research on things you are already interested in. Case in point, over on YouTube I’ve been made aware of a couple of people from very different parts of the world who are involved in home renovation and decoration projects.

NOTE: You can search YouTube for the name of each individual’s channel by copying the BOLD text and putting it in YouTube’s search box.

I’m not really sure how or where, let alone why Karolina Zebrowska popped up in my feed but I’m glad she did. This lady is from Poland, does a bit of travel, and has a passion for history. Oh, and she’s renovating a 1930’s era flat that she purchased.

I’ll be doing more research into her channel because what I’ve already seen is interesting. It is not quite the run of the mill anything.

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know I’m a follower of DIY Danie. Danie has been working on her 1850 era Canadian farm house for quite a while now. Imagine my surprise to have Ariel Bissett pop up in my YouTube feed.

Ariel, also Canadian, purchased an 1860-ish home in Nova Scotia that she has been renovating in addition to her regular work which seems to have some research and review focuses. She makes some beautiful videos, providing interesting perspectives and information.

Both of these ladies are creating homes that reflect who they are, not the latest Pinterest craze. Each has a style and preference that is unique to them. Each provides me with some beautiful things to look at, ponder, and appreciate.

Consider this my invitation to you to check out their channels and see what you think.

Enjoy!

Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: Filling In The Blanks

Or, what do you do in between books in a series?

A couple of years ago I found myself in the middle of a Sherlock Holmes binge. If binge is what it could be called. Frankly, I’m not sure.

The problem is not new. It is also rather simple. Simplistic? <sigh> The problem is what do you do when you are in between books in the series you follow. You’ve read all the books by your regular authors, you are up to date, you are ready for the next adventure, but… The next book won’t be out for months yet.

To quote Charlie Brown, “Aaaarrrrrrrrgh!”

I’ve been blessed this past year or so to find a couple of new authors and series that have captured my imagination. When I look back at my book list I’m astounded – One series in particular has over 20 books.

On the other hand, I’ve dropped one author of a long running series who seems to have either given up or just gone off the rails. I honestly don’t know. I’ve another author, also of a long running series, who usually produces a book every 3 years or so but for reasons beyond explanation (or at least made public) this last offering took 7 years to appear. I have it, but I’ll be honest and tell you I haven’t opened it.

So, how have I managed to survive the time in between? I’ve re-read (re-listened, actually) to quite a few books in a series. I’ve looked for new authors. I’ve revisited classics. I’ve gritted my teeth and pulled up my library list from Audible to see what I haven’t listened to lately. 🙂

Speaking of Audible.com, I am extremely grateful for their Audible Plus Catalog. (If you want details, check out their website.) In addition to the credits I purchase every month, I have access to hundreds, if not thousands, of books to tickle my fancy. Remember that series I mentioned … the one with the 20 books? Found it in the Audible Plus Catalog. 😀

Over the years I’ve had several authors who made my ‘Hardback List’. They were the ones I didn’t wait until the new books made it to paperback, I got them as hardbacks. Sadly, those authors have passed away. I have many, if not all, of their books on audio, so I can indulge as I choose. I can’t complain as I get to visit with old friends every times I pick up one of those wonderful books.

In the meantime, I’m doing my best to explore and find new authors. I look for different times, timelines, subject matter, you name it. It really is like wandering through the local book shop to see what catches my eye and my imagination.

Don’t Forget Those Readers!

One other thing I’ve been doing is following my favorite readers. For audio book fans, the readers can make or break the book. Here are a few of my favorites:

The amazing Jim Dale gained fame voicing the Harry Potter books. I love listening to his work! Stephen Fry is not only an excellent reader but has produced several fascinating books on a variety of topics that he has also read. Well worth checking out. Scott Brick is an excruciatingly busy reader! I find him reading many adventure books by different authors.

Simon Prebble is a long time favorite. His distinctive voice and excellent vocalization takes any work up a level. Davina Porter is one of the most interesting readers I’ve encountered. She manages not only a large number of characters but also a variety of accents and languages with apparent ease. Barbara Rosenblat is the reason I started reading what turned out to be one of my favorite series. Her work is impeccable.

I’m glad to say that I have a few items on my Pre-Order List to look forward to. Maybe relieved would be a better word? Let’s just say I’ve got things to look forward to. In the meantime, I’ve taken the time to go back and revisit authors and series to make sure I’ve not missed anything.

On to the next adventure!