December 2009

I wish I had more time/money.

My birthday was yesterday. I’m 2*.

I’m getting fired up about too many things.

I got lots of cool presents.

I have too many irons in the fire.

But in a good way.

Is this corny or what? I created a new tab called “I want to…” It’s one of those “I want to learn to play the violin before I die” things.

Some of my goals may seem to contradict each other (like 72, 73, and 74) so if you have any questions feel free to ask. 🙂

Hey, I can dream!

My brother sent an email trying to plan how we’re going to spend Christmas and Christmas Eve. Among suggestions of dune-buggying, eating, and shooting stuff (that was on there, right?) he suggested doing projects around my house. What a nice brother, right? That’s the way my family is- no, he doesn’t owe me anything, he just looks at me (probably with a pitying frownsmile) and thinks “That girl still hasn’t grouted ________ or painted _____ or cleaned up ________ .” And that stuff sort of makes its way onto his to-do list. My fam is hard to explain.

Anyhow, so I was saying “There really isn’t anything big that I need help on, we should do something else.” His response: “Oh really? Your back door needs a doorknob, your front door needs weatherstripping, you need to paint your fireplace, and your front door…” then I started realizing that yes, I need to hem all of my curtains that just lay bunched up on the floor, and fix the bathroom doorknob so it doesn’t lock you inside, and take that nasty old rug to the DI, and put on switchplate covers,  and do some more cleaning up… ahh, I discovered a to-do list that I didn’t even realize I had.

Oh and laundry.

Merry Christmas!

Thanks to Stan’s dad, who happens to be a licensed electrician, I got a lot of stuff done this week. Well, they got a lot of stuff done while I was at work. They replaced my whole electrical panel and installed a grounding system. Wow! Thanks guys!

I don’t have a “before” pic of the old panel (why would I?) but here it is lying defeated in the truck bed trailer.

Ta-dah- the macho new one!

OK in case you can’t tell, it’s much bigger, and there’s a lot of other stuff about it that’s better that I don’t really know about. It took Stan, Duncan, and their dad Brad about 4-5 hours to do this. Whew! I asked Brad how he felt about his line of work- you don’t really get to see a dramatic “after” or anything. He said it was actually pretty gratifying though, and he also likes to plan lighting so that part would be pretty cool.

Anyway, it’s important that it was bigger, because I plan on finishing the basement. Now there are lots of nice empty spots for future breakers to go. And since the basement will likely be a little mother-in-law apartment (supplemental income baby) it’s good that it’s in the stairwell so both parts of the house can access it when they blow a breaker blow-drying their hair while making toast and microwaving leftover Mexican food while they watch TV in the kitchen.

More stuff I don’t know about: They put in a grounding rod that looks like this:

Hard to believe that that thing is actually about 8 feet tall! I have no idea how they pounded it into the ground that far, and how they got so lucky as to not hit any rocks on the way down. So the grounding rod is important because if there’s some deviant electricity and you’re nearby then it would rather go down the grounding rod and into the ground instead of going through your body and into the ground. Or something like that.

An obstacle they faced when replacing the panel was the shower line- the plumbers had cleverly snaked it around the old panel, but since this one is much bigger, Brad had to cut it. But he very sweetly came back the next day and fixed it. It cracks me up how wonky it looks (and I’m definitely NOT criticizing because there really isn’t any other way!) and now every time I turn on the shower I’ll think of the water flowing around and around all those turns before it gets to me.

Oh and see that outlet just to the left of the panel? Yeah- that’s the one that used to be in the shower. My brother used his creative genius and just turned it around to get it out of there. Awesome.

Obviously I still need to patch the walls. I really couldn’t be more grateful for all their hard work! I didn’t even lift a finger on any of this.

And for fun, I’ll show you another Hidden Treasure like this one and this one. I guess they used to insulate wires with newspaper:

A 1 year-old car for $3697- yes please!

As a side note, for those who live in Utah and know that Larry Miller is a big car dealership- who is this Laury Miller character?

As always, I apologize for the bad photography. But I need some help! These are vaguely the colors in my guest room (the lovely quilt made by Aunt Soozie doesn’t have to stay there). So… basically black, white, and Desert Castle.

Here is the Desert Castle against white trim:

After I’d painted (of course) I found this picture in an old Domino magazine and I fell in love!

I never would have put mint green with red and black. Could my guest room pull it off? Can I keep the Desert Castle or does it have no place with the Domino colors? I welcome your suggestions!

PS- while this project is a ways off, meanwhile I’ve had some exciting pro-bono electrical work done that I will share with you when I’m able to photograph in daylight. Thanks Brad!

You may be reading my blog because you are thinking of buying a home, or because you already bought your first home. If you fit into the latter category, I’m just going to say a quick thing about getting your refund. You DON’T have to wait until April to file for the credit, unless you want to. If you want the money immediately (well, in 6 weeks which is about how long it takes to process), all you have to do is amend last year’s taxes.

If you know anything about taxes, or really anything about filling out forms, you could probably just download the 1040X form and the 5405 form and do it yourself. All the info you need will be in your closing documents and your 1040 from last year, and the forms have instructions that are pretty good.

However, I have about zero confidence in myself to not mess it up, so I paid an accountant $100 to fill them out instead. (I also didn’t file my taxes for three years, so that kind of demonstrates my level of competency on the subject, and maybe even on life itself).

Good luck getting your dough!

My inability to finish projects and remember to take pictures when it’s daylight is forcing me to blog about Christmas crafts. I don’t want to share too much because some of my giftees read my blog (I think) but I’ll give you a sneak peek.

These are the adorable fabrics I got from Piper’s in SLC.

I hope you like them as much as I do, because as for the house, I got nothin (except last night I tried chiseling away some plaster in the kitchen hoping to reveal brick, and sadly I was disappointed- no need for any pictures of that).

I picked up these adorable headbands for my nieces at my friend Astrid’s boutique, Sprout.

I hope they stay on their heads!

Here I am wistfully drinking tea from a cup that displays where I’d rather be, while crafin’ it up and listening to The Sing Off.

I’m reaching for bathroom “after”-ness- getting…closer… aaaahhhh! Not quite folks, which is why I’m going to show you the two not-that-exciting improvements I’ve made, in an attempt to feel like I’ve accomplished something. The bathroom has been 90% done for a while now, I’m just holding out on the big reveal because I have not yet decorated it. This is the fun part but why do I have to be so bad at it?? I will say this: I picked an accent color

and we hung up the vanity fixture

which the medicine cabinet barely clears, but hey- it clears (even if there was some bending and fudging). And now, when I go in there, I can see every last eyebrow that I need to pluck and if I had a mustache, I would be able to see all those hairs too. If I had a mustache. Oh, you do? Sad.

The rest of the blogosphere is doing these posts, so I want in.

I’m not much of a money-spending gift giver. Anyone who knows me could probably tell you that. My family is pretty much the same way. Let me illustrate this with a conversation I had with my brother last year, who bought me a present even though we agreed that we wouldn’t do that that year. He gave me a CD, wrapped and everything.

Me: Maaaaatt! I thought we weren’t doing presents! Great, I didn’t get you anything.

Matt: It was $2 and I got it for 50% off. Plus I already uploaded it to my computer. So chill out.

But sometimes I have been known to give a gift or two. Usually they are either very cheap or free, or homemade, or food. So here are my top ideas:

If you’re crafty, The Sewing Republic has lots of really cool ideas and Recycled Lovelies has quite a few too. Last year, I got some free tote-bags from my work, and I just covered up the GE logo with a sewed-on decal of something I thought my friends would like. (Sadly, I never finished Wendy’s or Candice’s- sorry guys).

If you like to cook and you’re a little adventurous, you could make homemade caramels and wrap them in wax paper and put them in a cute tin. A batch goes a long way- you could probably get enough for 4 or 5 people from one batch. Here’s my recipe:

2cups sugar

1.5 cups dark Karo

1 cup cream

1.5 squares butter

Mix the above in a saucepan, bring to a boil. Boil hard for 5 minutes. Then add 1 more cup cream, 1 T at a time, slowly to maintain boil. Cook to firm ball stage (244°F). Take from stove and add 2 t vanilla and nuts if desired. Pour into a buttered 9×9 pan and let cool. Cut into squares and place each square on a square of wax paper, and wrap it Jolly-Rancher style.

Tip: to test firm ball stage, drop a little goop of the mixture into a cup of ice water. It should form a firm but pliable ball.

These aren't mine but they look similar

Regular ol’ cookies and treats are always good too, and you can usually find cute tins and boxes for a dollar or two.

Gift cards are awesome- I don’t buy that they’re impersonal- I know a few Starbucksaholics who would appreciate even the smallest gift card. If someone is doing a lot of home improvement, a Lowe’s or HD gift card (NOT hinting haha) seems like a pretty personal gift to me.

This one’s a little more expensive, but oh so cool. If you’re a humanitarian, does gift certificates. It’s such a cool idea- it’s like giving a charitable donation in someone’s name, except it’s not a charity! They’re micro-loans, and they have about a 98% repayment rate so your giftee actually gets the money back. Check it out!

My final idea: ask them what they want! If they play the whole “Oh, you don’t have to get me anything.” just say “I’m going to get you something, so it can either be something you want, or something you don’t want.” That worked on me one time.

I always want to give gifts that I really think people will use and enjoy, not that they will have to cart off in the DI (Goodwill) box a few months from now. Or, a gift that they can eat, because that’s pretty clutter-free.

Aren’t my post titles clever?

Do you ever put something off because you think it’s going to be hard, or just a pain… so you buy some blinds and they sit in their packages all rolled up in the corner of you room… and you stare at them every time you walk by… threatening them that one of these days you’re going to get the better of them and actually hang them up… and there’s nothing they can do to stop you… after you watch one more episode of 30 Rock? Does anyone else do that?

And then, you finally get all geared up to do it, and it turns out that that task you’ve been dreading is really easy. Like, really easy.

Turns out, all you gotta do is drill two holes with a 1/16 bit, and then screw the little hooks in, and hang your blinds like you’re hanging a picture!

Done! Why did I wait so long??

I quite like them. I do think I need some more dark colors so they don’t look so out of place, but I like them. My SIL says that they’re not very private… I’ll have to go outside and tell Stan to pretend he’s changing his clothes so I can see for myself the voyeur-factor. But they let in just enough morning light to get me out of bed, and that may be worth a few sneak peeks every now and again. Just kidding.

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