Wednesday, February 03, 2016

What's So Great About This Thing They Call a Dishwasher?

I never had a dishwasher until we moved to this house a couple years ago.  Unless you want to count the kids who mainly just grumbled about having to do something around the house and seemed to have a hard time actually getting things clean.  Thinking about it now, they probably did that on purpose so they could hopefully get out of washing dishes in the future.  And it worked way more than it should have.

When we built our house in Wisconsin, I had the choice of putting in a dishwasher or just having a cabinet in the spot next to the sink.  I chose a cabinet, because you can never have enough storage in the kitchen.  And I didn't want to pay extra to have the dishwasher. When we moved here, there was already a dishwasher.  We did end up buying a new one when we bought our new refrigerator so that it went with the other appliances better, and we gave the one that was here to Beth, along with the washer and dryer.

You'd think, because we actually spent money on it, that I would actually use the dishwasher, and I have - a handful of times.  I just haven't figured out what's so great about it yet.  It seems it takes longer to figure out how things are supposed to go into the dishwasher than it actually does to just wash the dishes.  Seriously, I really have no idea how things are even supposed to go in there, and I just end up getting frustrated.

And then there are the things that can't go into the dishwasher - wooden handled knives and wooden spoons that will dry out, silicone scrapers and plastic things that will pick up the smell of the dishwasher soap and hold onto it for ages, anything that will rust if it's not dried right away, etc.  The only things left that can actually go into the dishwasher are usually glasses, plates, bowls, and other easy-to-wash things.  I mean, I suppose at least I wouldn't have to wash those, but if I have to fill the sink with soapy water to wash all the other things, it seems silly not to just go ahead and wash everything while I'm at it.  Considering it takes 2 to 3 hours for the thing to run, it's definitely quicker to just wash the dishes and get it over with. 

Also, there are only two of us.  There are definitely dishes every day, but it would take several days to fill the dishwasher up with the things that can actually go in there.  My thought is that it takes the same amount of water, power, detergent, and time to run the dishwasher no matter how full it is, so there's no reason to run it unless it is completely full.  It would just seem wrong.  The problem with that is there are things I use on a regular basis, and I need to have them clean before I'd ever think of running the dishwasher.  So, even if I loaded things in there, I'd be pulling them out again so I could wash them and use them.

I usually wash dishes after dinner, stack them in the drainer to dry overnight, and put them away in the morning while the coffee brews.  It works perfectly because I hate drying dishes.  If the dishwasher runs and I don't remember to crack the door open so air can get in overnight, unloading and putting the dishes away also includes drying.  Did I mention that I hate drying dishes?  Honestly, I have a hard enough time getting my hands dry sometimes, let alone trying to get dishes dry.

So, those of you who think you just can't live without your dishwasher - what is so great about this thing?  Oh, I'm sure I'm doing it wrong, but I honestly don't mind washing dishes.  It's one of my two favorite things to do when I want to warm up.  Or maybe that's three favorite things...

Homebuilding Requires More Than a Good Idea or a Blueprint

contractorIf you ask the average person what kind of house they would prefer, they likely could tell you the style of the house, describing it in detail, and give you every one of the house's features. Some who have some drawing skill could even sketch the house for you. It takes a lot more than a sense of style to build a house, though. In fact you have to be licensed in every state just to take on this task. Here are some things that contractors have to learn before they are allowed to build homes or master the contractor license renewal process.
  • Reading Blueprints and Understanding Building Codes
    Imagine how dangerous some houses would be for living if there were no agency to inspect the work. People would have to deal with fire hazards, substandard materials, fall and accident hazards, and other potential dangers. Fortunately, cities have processes in place to ensure that all contractors understand how to read the blueprints for buildings and understand how legal codes might impact the building plans. No matter how beautiful the idea is for a new house, it has to stand up to current code regulations.
  • Energy Conservation
    Every gorgeous idea is not necessarily the most energy efficient use of materials and space. When contractors participate in continuing education courses, or take the required courses for initial licensure, they learn how to best use materials in order to protect the environment, preserve the longevity of materials, and conserve energy. Although some cities offer incentives to encourage contractors to engage in these best practices, the most trusted contractors are already using energy efficient plans as a part of their routine contract work. 
  • OSHA and Other Safety Regulations
    Almost everybody knows someone who is a jack-of-all-trades and could build a house from the ground up with little to no help. However, this natural ability does not mean that the jack-of-all-trades is prepared to build safely. Licensing courses teach contractors the best ways to approach safety and keep construction sites compliant with local and national regulations. The risk of not having this training is personal and crew safety, as well as a potential construction shut-down if officials are not pleased with safety precautions.
No matter how good your idea may be for a new house, it is not sound unless it can withstand the inspections required by most cities. The rules are there to protect both contractors and those who dwell in the house. Licensing courses help ensure contractors really know what they are doing.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Book List 2015

Once again I could just link you to my Year in Books on Goodreads, but that would just be too easy.  It does take a bit of the surprise out of it for me, because they've already told me how many books I read - not counting all those kids books I read repeatedly when Jason was here visiting.

This year Goodreads even told me how many pages I read.  Do you think they were copying me from last year?  I did list all my pages and listening time in last year's book list.  I will have to redo it, though because they didn't differentiate between books I read and books I listened to.  So, I may already know how many books I read, but I don't yet know how many pages and hours.  Shall we see?

Also, once again I'll link to any reviews I did.  I wonder if I did a better job rating and reviewing this year?  I meant to.

  1. 84 Ribbons (Ballet Trilogy #1) - Paddy Eger
  2. The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life - Bruce H. Wilkinson
  3. Hidden - Catherine McKenzie
  4. Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good (Mitford Years #10) - Jan Karon (audio)
  5. The Summer Guest - Justin Cronin
  6. Wild Rover No More: Being the Last Recorded Account of the Life & Times of Jacky Faber (Bloody Jack #12) - L.A. Meyer (audio)
  7. Forgiven (Firstborn #2) - Karen Kingsbury
1493 pages | 28 hours and 10 minutes

  1. Life Drawing - Robin Black
  2. The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1) - Lois Lowry (audio)
  3. Gathering Blue (The Giver Quartet #2) - Lois Lowry (audio)
  4. Found (Firstborn #3) - Karen Kingsbury
  5. Messenger (The Giver Quartet #3) - by Lois Lowry ( (audio)
615 pages | 13 hours 56 minutes

  1. Son (The Giver Quartet #4) - Lois Lowry (audio)
  2. Living a Life That Matters: from Nazi Nightmare to American Dream - Ben Lesser, (audio)
  3. The Moon Sisters - Therese Walsh
288 pages | 16 hours 54 minutes

  1. Sycamore Row - John Grisham (audio)
20 hours 50 minutes

  1. Seeker - Arwen Elys Dayton
  2. When God Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life - Squire Rushnell (audio)
  3. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler (audio)
448 pages | 12 hours 51 minutes

  1. While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age during the Civil Rights Movement - Carolyn Maull McKinstry, (audio)
7 hours 58 minutes

  1. The Murder at the Vicarage (Miss Marple #1) - Agatha Christie (audio)
  2. Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace #1)- M.J. Arlidge
  3. Death Cloud (Young Sherlock Holmes #1)- Andy Lane (audio)
  4. The Thread: God's Appointments with History - Ronald, L. Dart
  5. Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard - Laura Bates
  6. The King's Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy - Mark Logue and Peter Conradi (audio)
1029 pages | 22 hours 23 minutes

  1. Confessions of a Prayer Slacker - Diane Moody
  2. Smoke - Catherine McKenzie
  3. Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn't Give Up - Larissa Murphy and Ian Murphy (audio)
  4. God's Favorite Place on Earth - Frank Viola
  5. Rose Under Fire (Code Name Verity #2) - Elizabeth Wein (audio)
744 pages | 19 hours 1 minute

  1. The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1)- Stephen King
  2. Divided We Fall - Trent Reedy (audio)
  3. The Good Neighbor - A.J. Banner
430 pages | 10 hours 42 minutes

  1. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed (audio)
  2. The Dog That Saved Stewart Coolidge - Jim Kraus
  3. The Martian - Andy Weir
721 pages | 13 hours 6 minutes

  1. Come Rain or Come Shine (Mitford Years #11) - Jan Karon (audio)
  2. The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2) - Stephen King
  3. Obsession in Death (In Death #40) - J.D. Robb (audio)
399 pages | 21 hours 55 minutes

  1. Devoted in Death (In Death #41) - J.D. Robb (audio) 12h 16m
  2. Frozen: The Junior Novelization - Sarah Nathan (audio) 2h 18m
  3. Evening Prayers for Every Day of the Year - Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt
366 pages | 14 hours 34 minutes

  • Total books - 43 (compare to 49 in 2014)
  • Total pages - 6533 (compare to 9931 pages in 2014)
  • Total time - 200 hours  (compare to 151 hours in 2014)
Source for page numbers - Goodreads and/or Amazon | Source for audio book lengths - Audible

I did a slightly better job of writing at least a short review of the books I read.  Out of the 43 books I read, I wrote a review for 17 of them.  I always have a hard time knowing what to say beyond stating whether I liked it or not.  I should at least start doing that.  Oftentimes I have every intention of writing something, but then I've moved on to the next book, and I never get back to it. 

How many books did you read in 2015?  I'd love to hear some suggestions for my 2016 reading list.

*if you happen to click any of the book covers and buy  from Amazon, they say they'll pay me a small percentage.  Every little bit helps, and I thank you for your support!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Three Important Things to Consider Before Throwing a DIY Wedding

If this is the first time you visited my blog, you may not know that I married my lovely husband Jeffrey almost 30 years ago. In those days, many couples planned their wedding days on their own with the help and support of their family and friends. In today's modern world, it sometimes seems impossible to host a wedding and a reception without a professional wedding planner. After announcing your engagement, you should consider a few things when deciding whether to go it alone or work with a planner.

How Much Help Do You Have?

The DIY option is great for those who have a lot of help and support. You might have your mother, future mother-in-law, cousins, sisters and best friends ready to assist you every step of the way. If you want a smaller ceremony and don't have a lot of family or friends, you might look at whether the venue you selected can help. For example, the Chevy Chase Golf Club has wedding planners who can help you pick a location at the country club, find caterers and decide on decorations. Similar venues may offer help as well.

What Does Your Guest List Look Like?

Hosting a DIY wedding and reception is generally best when you want a more casual affair with just a handful of guests. Make sure you decide up front on how many people you want to invite. If you find that the list keeps growing and spiraling out of control, it's time to get some professional help. A wedding planner can assist you with finding invitations, addressing and mailing those invitations, working out a menu with your caterers and ensuring that you have enough seating on hand for all your guests.

How Much Money Can You Spend?

Whether you plan your big day on your own or with the help of a professional often depends on the budget you have in mind. Wedding planners can charge an hourly rate or charge one set fee based on the amount of work and help you need. If you find yourself pinching every penny to save money and bring your wedding in under your budget, you may not have enough left over to afford professional help. Working with a planner, however, may be exactly what you need to stick to your budget. Wedding

Consider all these options when deciding whether to work with a planner or have a DIY wedding.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Surprising Book Facts

I'm working on my 2015 Book List, and I came across this image on Facebook.  I'm not sure where this information came from or even if it's true - but if it is, it is very surprising to me.  Or at least very hard to believe or understand.  There are so many books available - books on every conceivable subject full of stories about everything under the sun.  You'd think everyone would be able to find something of interest.

But, apparently, they aren't even looking.

Just sad.

Things You Can Do To Prevent Mold

Mold within a home isn't just unsightly, it's dangerous. Certain types of mold can pose serious health risks and lead to respiratory distress which can prove fatal to the very young, the very old, and those with compromised immune systems. It's important to know what steps you can take to prevent mold from forming within your home.
  1. Dry wet areas immediately.
    Mold requires moisture to grow. If you find an area in your home that is wet due to a leak, dry it as quickly as possible. Look for areas that are frequently wet and do what you can to identify and solve the problem. Doorways, improperly sealed windows, basements, and other areas where outside moisture may seep in or a leaky pipe may cause problems should be watched carefully to ensure mold isn't forming out of sight.
  2. Ensure your home is properly ventilated.
    Proper air flow will ensure that moisture dries quickly. Areas with high amounts of moisture, such as a laundry room, bathroom, or kitchen should have a good air flow through them to ensure nothing molds. Dishes tucked away at the bottom of the sink, laundry buried at the bottom of the pile, and other oft-overlooked culprits of mold are usually the things people forget about.
  3. Use mold resistant products.
    Mold-resistant drywall and sheetrock is available for purchase. If you're renovating your home, consider using a type of material that will resist mold growth and help keep your home safe from an insidious threat that you may not even know is there until it's too late.
  4. Direct moisture away from the home.
    Ensure your gutters are in proper working order, and make sure the ground around your home doesn't slope down towards the foundation. If water is frequently entering your home from outside, it could be because your home's drainage is compromised. Speak with a landscaper to fix the issue and keep your home dry.
If you already have mold in your home, you should contact a professional company right away to remove it. There are a number of companies that offer mold remediation DC. Employing the services of any one of these companies can make the difference in your quality of living. However, doing what you can to prevent mold from forming in the first place is important.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Some Culture and Some Sport

Nobody guessed what we were going to do this weekend.  Actually, nobody even guessed at all.  My mom asked for some hints over on facebook.  I guess I did leave it wide open - it could have been anything.

So, for those of you who have been anxiously anticipating the answer, here's what we did this weekend:
  1. Saturday night we went to a ballet.  We saw the Anderson Young Ballet Theatre's performance of The Nutcracker.  I'm not sure ballet is something we'll make a habit of attending, but it was interesting.  I especially liked watching the little bitty kids.  And the theater itself is really neat.

  2. And Sunday we went to an NFL football game.  We saw the Indianapolis Colts play Houston.  It was fun walking around the stadium and checking everything out.  When it comes right down to it, it doesn't really matter what sport it is - basketball, baseball, football - they're all about the same.  I'm not saying the actual games are the same, but all the silly things to keep fans interested, I guess, are all about the same.  It's crazy, and it's very tiring.  We had a good time, but I was really wiped out by about the 3rd quarter.  There's something about the lights and the constant noise that is really wearing.

So what did you do this weekend?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Bundle and Save

If you're like me, you're always looking for ways to save money.  Have you ever looked at your monthly bills and wondered if there was a way to cut them down?  Why do things like cable television and Internet access have to be so expensive?  There aren't many of us who would be willing to cut those things out of our lives, but there are ways to save on the bill every month.

Computer RepairThe key to saving on your Internet service is to look for phone and Internet bundles that package multiple services together with significant discounts.  It's hard to believe, but sometimes you can get television, Internet, and home phone services bundled together, and it won't cost you much more than it would cost to get just one of those services.  It will definitely cost less than using one provider for cable television, a different provider for Internet, and another one for home phone service.  Companies want all of your business, and they'll usually give significant discounts when you bundle your services and use just one company for all of your needs.

Many companies offer promotional deals to get you to sign up with their services.  While that sounds like a really good deal, be sure to check the length of the promotion and whether you'll be locked into a contract which will require you to pay higher prices after the promotion runs out.  It often ends up being a good deal anyway, when you average the cost of your payments over the length of the contract, but just be aware of when or if your monthly bill will increase and prepare for it.  Our cable and Internet provider offers promotional deals, and when they run out, we have to call to find out what the current promotion is so we can get our discounts back - which my husband needs to do about now to see if we can get our bill lowered again.

If your provider isn't willing to give you the latest promotional pricing when yours runs out, you may want to look into other providers in the area.  It's a crazy game, but most companies offer their promotions to new customers but not necessarily to their current customers.  So, switch providers if you have to in order to get the better prices.  It seems like a pain, but you'll end up getting newer equipment and perhaps some extra movie channels for a while.
Day 308/365: 'Prisonbreak' and 'Heroes' are back!!!
Besides saving some money every month, bundling your services means you'll also have the convenience of only having one bill to deal with.  Oftentimes you can save even more by signing up for paperless billing and automatic payments.  Which, of course, means that once you've got it set up, you don't have to do anything but enjoy your services. 

Until it's time to look at lowering your monthly payments again.

Try Something New

Let's play a guessing game.

Next weekend Jeffrey and I are going to do, not one, but two things that we have never done before.  Who wants to guess what we are going to be doing?  Mom (Ruthie), you are not allowed to guess since Jeffrey already told you.  The rest of you feel free to chime in with your guesses.

I can tell you that we will not be going zip lining - because we already did that last month.  I had been wanting to do that for ages, but Jeffrey wasn't so sure he wanted to do it.  He changed his mind pretty quickly once we got out there.  We had a blast! We are definitely going to have to do that again.

But not next weekend.  Next weekend we are going to do two completely different things.  Get your guesses in now, and I will let you know after the weekend - and see if anyone guesses correctly.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Should You Hire a Professional Cleaner?

CleaningYou may have several surfaces that you need to have cleaned. Should you attempt to clean them yourself? Many people try to avoid the cost of hiring a cleaning company by trying to do the cleaning on their own. However, some jobs are just too big for the average person to handle. Also, some cleaning jobs involve the cleaning of biohazardous materials. Obviously, these items are incredibly dangerous and need to be cleaned up in a very specific way. Otherwise, the health of the people doing the cleaning could be put in jeopardy.
Here are some of the advantages of hiring a cleaning company.
  1. The job will be done right the first time
    You run the risk of not doing the cleanup correctly if you attempt to do it yourself. This can create additional problems at your home or business that could have been prevented if you had simply called a professional cleaning company in the first place. The pros will take a look at the surface that needs to be cleaned. They will then determine what the substance is that needs to be removed. These two pieces of information will allow them to figure out exactly how they will go about cleaning it off. Different substances require different cleaning chemicals to completely remove them.
  2. Many cleaners do not harm the environment
    You might be one of the many people who are concerned about possibly harming the environment with chemicals used in the cleaning process. If this is the case, there are now many professional cleaning companies that exclusively use cleaning products that will not harm the environment. This was not the case 10 years ago. However, the general public has recently expressed a desire to use cleaning products that are safe for the environment and the cleaning industry has responded. Do you need to hire an experienced concrete cleaner? You can get in contact with one by visiting
  3. You can avoid contact with dangerous substances
    You may find yourself in a situation where you have potentially harmful substances that need to be cleaned up. This requires much more than your average cleaning chemicals to do the job right. There is a special protocol that must be taken to ensure that all traces of the substances have been removed from the area. There are special cleaning solutions that need to be used to clean substances like feces and medical waste. A cleaning company will know what to do.