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
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!

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!

Around the House

Easing Into The Holidays

Or out of the holidays, if you choose.

Typically the time period between November 15th and January 2nd is when I hibernate. Why? Simple. I don’t like crowds on a good day and during the holidays, there are very few ‘good days’ when you are out among folks who are all competing for the best deal, the most stuff, the insanity that is the last minute (for some) shopping extravaganza.

Yes, I know that sounds pretty grinchy, but I’m not alone in my desire not to get caught up in the furor.

So, how do I deal with the Holidays? I find baking projects that I can do when I feel like being in the kitchen for any length of time. I look for holiday specials or episodes on my favorite channels or platforms that bring a sparkle and some cheer. I plan my Holiday Menu, or two, or three. I find ways to avoid getting caught up in the insanity and enjoying the sanity.

Sanity during the holidays? Are you crazy?

Maybe. Over the years I’ve found ways to enjoy the holidays without being caught up in the noise, motion, frazzle, and such. It is possible. It isn’t something most people do, either. Which is probably why my stress level is much lower. 🙂

What’s on my Holiday To Do List this year?

Well, I’ve unearthed a couple of recipes from my bucket list that I actually have ingredients on hand to make. I’ve begun looking at the various schedules for the channels and platforms I like to watch. I’m looking for holiday shows that are either very new or very old. Yeah, I know how that sounds but that’s what is appealing this year. 😉 I’m also aiming to have some Appointment Viewing so I make time to watch what I find. I’m finding those particular special items that I want to gift and getting that done in time to avoid mail or delivery delays.

Basically, I’m setting limits for myself so I don’t make myself crazy, frustrated or upset. Once that is done I’m free to enjoy the season without worrying about what comes next.

The holidays may come once a year, but they do come every year. Make time to take time to enjoy yourself.

Around the House

Take A Deep Breath

Yes, the holidays are upon us. It isn’t as if you weren’t aware, right? Unless, of course, you might have been in a coma, off planet, without electricity, gas, or WiFi.

I’m sounding harsh? Really? Sorry, been there, done that, moved on. And you can, too.

If you’ve been reading here for very long, you might have noticed that I have mentioned that it could be a good time to start early holiday prepping…like in June? Back when it was warm and there were so many other things to do…

Honestly, the one reason we start seeing so many holiday themes in Summer is that crafters need to have time to prepare their crafts. Many of those projects require TIME.

But on a realistic bent, it is easier to budget not only your time but your money if you start early.

But what about NOW?????

Okay, let’s think this through.

How many gifts are you thinking about giving? How many gifts is realistic with your budget?

What can you make yourself? If you have a great recipe for cocoa mix or cookies or quick breads, now is the time to pull them out and start making a list. Some things will freeze well for a couple of weeks (make sure you have room in the freezer!), some things won’t stand up for very long. (Party mix with butter is a possibly no-no for long term storage.)

What about putting together a meal kit? You could collect the dry or canned ingredients for a soup or chowder, put ’em all in a basket or decorated box along with the recipe and meal ideas. You aren’t limited to soup, why not put together a pasta box? A box of pasta, jar of sauce, some bread or bread mix would be a great option. Is one of your recipients a coffee or tea lover? Find out what their favorite is and see what you can find to put with it in a box. Note: I’d think twice about a mug…most people have more than they need.

If you aren’t a regular visitor to the Dollar Store, or similar stores, put them on your To Do List. You will be amazed at what you will find. The same with charity shops. If you go in with an open mind, you can find all kinds of things for gifting. Granted, some might require effort on your part to freshen them up a bit, but over all they are great budget busters.

Gift cards can be a great option when you find yourself stretched too thin or the recipient is hard to buy for. I’m a big fan of gift cards or subscriptions for books as I inhale them. If you have a reader or audio book fan, check to see what they like and consider adding that to your list. Catalogs can be expensive, but if you are sure about the quality, you can find some great ideas for just about anyone.

Don’t overlook the gift of a manicure or pedicure or a haircut! Luxury! Which reminds me, if one of your recipients has a 4 footed canine companion, maybe a day at a doggie day care or a trip to the doggie spa would be appreciated? The feline companions might be a tad more difficult to buy for…perhaps some great toys or treats? A new bed?

I hope these ideas have given you food for thought. They really are just a jumping off point as every group is different. They don’t have to be expensive, they can be quite thrifty, and even creative.

For the moment, however, the first thing you need to do is take a long, deep breath. You’ll get through this! Really! 🙂

Around the House · Gifts

It’s That Time Again!

The catalogs have started to arrive.

Yes, they’re here! From the foodie drool-fest catalogs to the I-don’t-have-a-clue-but-this-covers-pretty-much-everything catalogs. And a few in between for good measure.

For me, Holiday Gift Giving is more a focus on treats or treasures rather than the day-to-day (i.e.: socks and underwear) kind of thing. Put it down to too many gifts that were more of a necessity nature rather than indulging in hobbies or adventures. Yes, I understand the reasons why, but … <shrug>

My particular problem is that those I gift to are too far away for my preferred methodology; make and deliver.

You see, I like to feed people. And, yes, it is less expensive to make it myself. (Have you seen the prices some catalogs charge?????!) Now, to be fair, I do understand the reason for the cost, especially having priced ingredients myself, and we already know I’m cheap labor.

All that being said, I like to find places to purchase quality items at a reasonable price and expect my recipients to enjoy the results, even if I haven’t made them myself.

This year I’ve found a couple of items that I use myself and I think will be quite useful for the recipients. I’m considering requesting them to be shipped early in December, too. We already know that the US Post Office is intending to slow down delivery to accommodate the high traffic gift/card giving season. (I’m sure there is sense somewhere…I just can’t see it myself yet…) Other delivery services will be just as overwhelmed as in years past, so it makes sense to get things started early.

Have you started creating your strategies for holiday gifting? Sending you High Fives, Good Luck, and lots of encouragement. January is coming. Really!

Around the House

Easing Into Fall

Here we are in September. Hard to believe that school is back in session, temperatures are threatening to cool off. Some of us have had rain. There have been some, um, interesting predictions for Winter weather.

Around here we are easing into Fall. I’ve been contemplating raisin bread. Homemade, that is. I’ve never made that version before. It could prove to be quite interesting. I do keep threatening to expand my bread baking. 😀

Miss Bella has found a New Spot for her nap. Naps? One of these days she will rediscover her cozy heat reflective kitty pad and curl up on it to keep toasty warm, but not today. Today she curls up in the middle of the floor with plenty of room to stretch out, curl toes, yawn, and snooze.

Are you easing into Fall, too?

Around the House · Musings

Getting Back to Normal?

The kids are heading back to school soon. The weather is starting to head toward what the end of Summer usually looks like. In places. 🙂 Folks are starting to think about a change of pace that could either be a slow down or a speed up depending upon the kids in the household.

I don’t know about you but I’m ready to stop thinking about Summer Meals and start diving into some hearty recipes that are not only satisfying but tasty, too.

Granted the move toward Fall will take a while – my local weatherman is predicting 90+ degree temps in the coming days – but in the meantime it is a good idea to start checking the markets to see what is on offer, what fits into the budget, and what changes we might make.

The Holidays are also on the way and that will mean some extra budget planning, not to mention time planning, for those who are looking at gift giving.

Yep, we are heading back to Normal.

Yikes!

Around the House · Cooking · Dining · Food

A Bread Board That Works!

If you are like me, you love homemade or artisan types of bread. If you are also like me, cutting these loaves can be a trial.

In my case, I have a wonderful, sharp knife, but the effort to slice the loaf without crushing it, or getting a slice that is a bit, um, mis-shaped, is a trial.

For several years I looked to find a solution to this problem, thinking that I might purchase an electric knife to solve the issue. I admit, I did not know about the bread slicing guide until I happened to trip over a reference in one of my searches.

I needed something that would make the slicing easier, provide a variety of slice sizes, and would be easy to store away. What I found astonished me.

Behold, the Natural Bamboo Foldable Bread Slicer! Click on the link for more information.

Pay attention to the information guide and note that while this is an easy to use product, there can be a bit of a learning curve. Like many first time users, I set mine up backwards – with the platform that the bread sits on lower than the knife guide. When I turned it over (right side up), it worked great!

It is easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to store. At first I was concerned that the bamboo would be damaged by cutting, but that hasn’t happened yet. I do have issues using the knife, but I expect that to work itself out over time.

Oh, and I have not purchased an electric knife. 🙂

I purchased mine through Amazon, but as you can see on the link above, you can purchase directly from the manufacturer – and check out all the other products they have available!