After spending four hours last weekend at a car wash raising money for a non-profit, I came home to find my husband in the middle of a project on our screened in porch. Two years ago, he decided to turn that porch into a greenhouse so that he could grow vegetables from seed and have them ready to plant in the spring. He covered the entire space with plastic sheeting, got a space heater and planted tomatoes, peppers and squash in red solo cups. For two months, these tender plants flourished until one night he forgot to turn on the space heater. All of that work gone to waste was disheartening and he abandoned the greenhouse plan, but the plastic sheeting remained. The space became the favorite haven for our cats and many a morning we discovered the prey they had captured and killed during the night. My kids likened the space to Dexter’s killing room and the porch became a family joke. I would not even enter the area, but it was in full view from the breakfast table and hard to ignore.
When I got home this past weekend, my husband had gotten rid of the plastic sheeting, removed the old screens and was just finishing up sweeping the space. That left us with a perfectly blank template. I love to refinish furniture and have also refinished our hardwood floors in the house. Looking at all of that virgin, unstained wood, I shook off the fatigue of four hours of car washing and gathered up my trusty refinishing materials. By the time I came in for the night I had stained about one third of the upright portion of the porch a rich mahogany and the next day I stained the rest of the walls and applied polyurethane. I am now working on the floor. Once I finish, I will then have to paint the wicker and sew new covers for the pillows.
There is something about taking an object or space that is old or dated and transforming it into something beautiful again. There is also something mentally relaxing about engaging in home improvement projects, even if they might be physically taxing. When I am stripping furniture or painting a wall I have to keep a portion of my mind engaged on what I am doing so I don’t accidentally gouge the wood or paint the carpet. The rest of my mind just seems to go into a Zen like state where worries and troubles disappear. What types of projects do you do for mental enjoyment?
- Mary AAR
I work in the financial services industry. Not long ago a client told me a story about an unexpected windfall. A life insurance policy that she and her husband had surrendered for the cash value years before had a benefit that they hadn’t understood at the time. Part of the policy premiums they paid for years was invested in stocks or a fund that grew along with the death benefit of the policy. When the life insurance was surrendered that separate account was left untouched. Eventually her husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and before he passed away the family dealt with as much of his estate as they could. Somehow their names got on a list and they received a letter stating that, for a huge finder’s fee, a company would search for any unclaimed money in his name. Continue reading
This clip has been around a while, but when is this reminder not timely? Watch it ’til the end – gotta love that doctor!
Nearly four years ago I posted here about my intention to start using green cleaning products. While it was partially motivated by a desire to help the environment, my major motivation was personal: I have a lot of allergies that cause reactions to many commercially available cleaning products. Well, I started out with good intentions but until about three months ago didn’t quite live up to my original hopes.
In a recent romance I read (a European historical), there is the following dialogue between the heroine and her suitor:
“… If you turn polite on me now, I shall become very bored indeed.” – “And that’s the very worst, isn’t it? Becoming bored?” – “I detest it. I will go to great lengths to avoid it.”
Intellectually, I completely get the purpose of this little exchange. Continue reading
Summer time is often iced tea time at my house. Simple sweet tea is most often offered but as a treat I love Bellini Iced Tea, a drink I first “discovered” at Olive Garden. It is extremely easy to make.
Bellini Iced Tea
1 Quart Chilled Tea (Olive Garden uses Earl Grey but Lipton Specially Blended for Iced Tea Bags work fine)
1/4 to 1/2 cup Torani Peach or Sugar Free Peach Syrup, according to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup Torani Raspberry or Sugar Free Raspberry Syrup, according to taste
Fresh peaches and raspberry for garnish if desired
Combine tea and syrups. Add Garnish of sliced peaches and a handful of raspberries if desired. Serve over ice.
- Maggie AAR
I can hardly believe it but I’ve now owned my latest laptop — a Dell Inspiron — for nearly three years. When first purchased, it was all sparkly and new and fast and well, just about everything I wanted. It’s still pretty darn fast and the hard drive has gobs of space on it, but it’s starting to show its age with periodic crashes and freezes. And most annoying, the wifi routinely requires tinkering. And the stupid thing weighs a ton (well, not really, but it feels that way when stuffed in a bag or pack along with everything else I need to carry).
My favorite late-spring flowers are magnolias. We don’t have any in the garden ourselves, but there are some in a nearby park, and I love going there or just cycling past the park and seeing the pale pink blooms. With spring being so late here in Germany this year, it’s only very recently that they’ve been blooming. Continue reading
Some of my favorite heroines have kept diaries. And one of my favorite book series Sorcery and Cecelia is written in the form of diaries and letters. The end result of all that reading about writing has been that I have long wished to keep a journal. I have literally dozens of blank books all waiting for me to write something brilliant in them. They were probably destined to remain blank. My attempts at journaling just never stuck. The fact is my life is pretty bland, my thoughts not really all that scintillating.
Do you chew gum? For the last 40-some years I would have answered “no way” I was reared to think that chewing gum was unladylike, bad manners, bad for your teeth, and just an ugly habit (think cows chewing cud). It never seemed like I was missing anything, because in my experience, gum came in just a few flavors, mint of some kind, fruit of some kind, and pink. And I remember the days when gum only came in foil packs and the sticks would fall out and come unwrapped in your purse, get sticky all over everything and collect lint and dirt. And used gum disposal is gross. But a new medication makes my mouth dry sometimes and recently I’ve been exploring what’s new in the world of gum. Continue reading