Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Some Ideas For Kitchen Countertops

If you get the urge to make changes to your kitchen but don't want to spend a fortune, then maybe you should consider just updating your countertops. When you redo all of your kitchen countertops, the whole kitchen is going to look like it was remodeled to your family and friends. It can take some work to redo your countertops, but the end result will make all of the work worth it.

Album 26 - San Bruno Remodel - Traditional - KraftMaid - after-10.jpgHere are some ideas for updating those countertops:

  • Painting Your Countertops
    One of the simplest ways to change the look of your countertops is to paint them. It is important to understand that you cannot just buy any paint off the shelf and use it on your kitchen countertops. You need to buy a special kit that has the primer and paint that you need to get the job done. Prior to putting on the primer, you should also fill in any cracks or holes in your counters to get a result that is smooth and spotless.
  • Resurfacing Your Countertops
    In the last few years, new kits have come available that homeowners can use to cover their kitchen countertops in a new vinyl covering. The covering is extremely durable and there is a wide variety of colors and patterns to choose from. It takes a little effort and some precise cutting to get this job done, but you will have new countertops that will last for years and look great at the same time.
  • Replacing Your Countertops
    If you do some diligent searching, you can find durable and beautiful countertop material at discount prices. Imagine finding a low-priced marble slab and using it to create the countertops you have always wanted. This counter refurbishing project will probably require the services of an expert contractor, but the end result can completely change the look of your kitchen and possibly the entire first floor of your home.
Any remodeling work you do in your kitchen is going to improve the overall look of your home in some way. When you give your kitchen countertops an overhaul, you are going to add plenty of new life to your kitchen that your guests and family will notice.

The Latest Laundry Technology

I've been drying some of our laundry lately using the latest technology.

I saw this on Facebook, and I thought it was fun.

I wanted a clothesline when we lived in our first house because the neighbor across the street had one, and it reminded me of how much I love the smell of freshly dried clothes. My mom used a clothesline a lot when I was growing up. But, I never got one while we lived there. I would have been quite convenient since the washer and dryer were in a little room that opened to the backyard, and the garage.

Then in Wisconsin, my laundry room was in the basement, and I really didn't give the clothesline too much thought, so it has taken me until this summer to start drying some of the clothes outside in the sunshine. There really is nothing like freshly washed and line dried sheets!

Jeffrey is planning to put a real clothesline in behind the awesome garden he built me. He has the post built but still needs to put it in the ground and add the line. So, in the meantime, I ordered some of these portable clotheslines, and we have one strung between the shed and the garden so I've been using that. I can only dry one king-size sheet at a time, but they dry pretty quickly in the sunshine.  It's been working well for shirts and shorts. To dry several at a time, I put them on plastic hangers (the ones we get at Kohl's when we shop there) and use the notches in the line to hang the hangers so they stay in place on the line.

Have you upgraded your laundry technology recently?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What Should You Update in Your Home?

I was talking to a friend this past weekend, and he was telling me about some improvements he'd been making to his house. It seems there's always something to be improved, doesn't it? What gets done and how soon all depends on time, money, and priorities. His home improvements involved pulling the carpet out of a couple bedrooms to expose the hardwood floors underneath, which sounds like a project that mainly takes time and manpower, but not a lot of investment. That's my kind of improvement. I was especially interested because we have a wood floor underneath the carpet in our bedroom, and I would love to pull that carpet out and expose the wood. The upstairs carpet is in decent shape, so it's not a huge priority, but it would be nice. We've been a bit worried about how the staples that hold the carpet down may have damaged the floor, but my friend said it wasn't a big problem on his floor and reminded me that the tack strips for the carpets are only around the edges. We may have to think about pulling that carpet out one of these days.

We've already done quite a few improvements around here since we moved in, the major one being pulling all of the carpet out of the downstairs and putting in wood floors, and replacing the laminate floor in the kitchen with ceramic tile. We certainly like it better, even if it isn't one of the things listed in this HGTV article entitled Which Home Improvements Pay Off?

Unsurprisingly, kitchens and baths made the list.
So exactly what should you improve when you redo your kitchen or bathroom?  Think traditional: all-wood cabinets, commercial-look appliances, natural wood or stone floors and stone countertops.
I certainly can't argue with that. One of the big pluses in this house was that the kitchen had been remodeled a few years back. I may not have chosen the exact marble slab or granite counter top they chose, and I never would have chosen the light cabinets they chose, but I got a great kitchen, and I didn't have to make all those decisions and live through the tumult of a kitchen remodel. The few days I couldn't get into or use my kitchen while the tile was installed were hard enough. I use my kitchen a lot.

If you're planning an update to your kitchen, I say definitely go for it. I think the kitchen is the most important room in the house, so every house deserves a great kitchen. Get some expert advice on which counter materials will work best for what you want and how you use your kitchen. As the HGTV article says, "if you're not planning to move in the near future, spend your money remodeling in a way that you'll most enjoy... Even if you get less than 100 percent of your money back, you're really ahead of the game over time because you get the use of all that space"

What kind of improvements have you made to your home? Did you do them with the idea of increasing the value of your home, or to increase your enjoyment in your home?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Drop Everything and Read

This phrase keeps running through my head. It's something the kids used to do in school. I'll have to ask Jason if they still do during the school day. I know he has a certain amount of reading he has to do at home. I'm not doing a very good job of actually listening to that voice in my head, though, no matter how much I might like to take a day and spend it reading. Or even just finish some of the books I've got started. Maybe next rainy day...

Except there will always be something else to do, and I always feel that I need to get all that other stuff done before I can actually sit down. I may just have to start making to-do lists (something I really need to do anyway), and put reading time on the list. If it's on the list, I have to do it, right?

Also, I set a goal on GoodReads of reading 40 books this year, which isn't a lot when I compare with some other people I know, but I thought it was reasonable. And I still read more books in a year than a lot of other people. But now here we are in September with only about 3 months left in the year, and I'm only 50% of the way to that goal. Either I'm going to have to count some of the books Jason and I read together when he was here, or I'm going to have to make a lot more time to read.

Or just accept failure.

Not sure this actually applies here, but I saw it on Facebook...

Monday, September 18, 2017

Three Reasons to Sell Your Timeshare

CondoOwning a timeshare is like owning a vacation home or property. The resorts behind these homes offer larger units with enough space for your family and friends and smaller units that are suitable for just two people. Though some function more as vacation clubs and let you visit different destinations and book different unit types, many require that you stay in the same place and the same unit year after year. Even if the resort makes it hard for you to terminate your contract, you may still want to sell your timeshare and end that contract for a few clear reasons.

  • Your Lifestyle Changes
    A common reason to get rid of your timeshare is that your lifestyle changes. While a small timeshare in a romantic destination might be great during the early days of your marriage, you may need more space once you begin having children. If you own a timeshare in a party city, you'll also want to sell because that resort doesn't offer opportunities or activities for kids. Timeshare termination can also happen because you recently separated or went through a divorce and no longer want to visit the same place you visited with your former spouse.
  • Medical Issues
    When you learn that you have a serious medical issue, you may want to stay home and care for yourself rather than travel to another part of the country. The same thing is true when your spouse receives a diagnosis of a serious medical condition. Caring for your loved one is more important than taking a vacation. Medical conditions can also limit the amount of money that you have to spend on your travels too. You'll need to pay for hospital visits and medications and won't have the money to fly to your timeshare resort.
  • Loss of Income
    Another reason why you might want to sell your timeshare is that you lose your job, take on a new job or have your hours cut back at work. As you make less money, you need to prioritize how you spend money. Paying for a timeshare and a luxury vacation will take a backseat to paying your mortgage and putting food on the table. 
Depending on the contract that you signed, timeshare termination can be easy or it can be really hard. Thankfully there are experts who can help you terminate your contract or find a buyer willing to take over your timeshare.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Is it Too Early for a Fire?

I know summer isn't quite finished, but I've been seeing signs of fall all over the place. Suddenly the leaves on the trees are starting to turn yellow and red and even falling to the ground. It won't be long until they're all brilliant and gorgeous like this picture from last year. Mornings are cool, and I need to wear a long sleeved shirt when I go for my morning walks.

It seems like it happened overnight. One day it was summer and the next fall had arrived. (Let's just ignore the fact that the temperature is supposed to be in the 80s by the weekend)

These cool evenings have me pulling out the cozy flannel pants and wondering if it's too early for a fire in the fireplace.  Our fireplace isn't really a source of heat, but it's just enjoyable to have a fire going. We enjoy a fire many evenings when the weather turns cool. Since it's a gas fireplace, it's fairly easy to get a fire going, and put it out at the end of the night.
Dec 21
When I was growing up we heated our house with a wood stove, and I use that term 'heated' very loosely because we really only tried to heat a couple rooms in the house while the rest of the house was closed off and very cold at times. I still appreciate being able to get warm when I go to bed at night and not waking up with snow on my pillow some mornings. But we did survive, and I guess we have memories and stories to tell because of it.

I did not have much responsibility for the fire except for carrying in wood quite often after school. The boys may have played with the fire a bit more. Isn't that a guy thing? I remember one time us kids were home alone and the chimney behind the stove started getting hot, and the cover in the next room started turning black. We were terrified that the house was going to burn down and ended up calling the fire department. Everything turned out fine, but it was very scary. I think it was something as simple as the damper on the stove not being closed so all the heat from the stove was going up the chimney instead of staying in the stove where it belonged. I know it could have been a lot worse.

I've been reading about how birds' nests and other debris like weeds, twigs, and grass can accumulate in a chimney during the summer when the fireplace or wood stove isn't being used, meaning that the first fire of the season could inadvertently spark a blaze that could spread to the rooftop. It sounds like it's not a bad idea to hire a DC chimney sweep, or general handyman to inspect and clean the chimney and roof before that first fire of the season.

Unless you want to climb up there yourself, which isn't exactly the best idea because it can be nearly impossible for the typical homeowner to figure out how to sweep out the chimney.  It also takes special equipment long enough to reach past the stack at the very top and vacuum hoses that can extend far enough down the chute to reach everything embedded inside. Professional sweeps come to your home with all of this equipment on hand and ready to use.  Before they get started, they inspect the chimney to make sure live creatures like squirrels or raccoons are removed safely.  They can then start removing nests, grass, weeds, and other debris from inside the chimney.

I don't think we ever had any such thing done to our old farmhouse in the country. Thankfully, we survived to tell the stories anyway.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

First Days

I had a memory pop up on Facebook this morning - some pictures I'd scanned in a while back. There was a really cute one of my precious daughter Beth. It was kind of weird to realize that she was not that much older in that picture than her son is now. How did that happen?

And that's when I thought it would be fun to put some pictures side by side. Jason started first grade this week. What if I put his first day of first grade picture next to his mom's first day picture?

Aren't they cute?

Here's what my baby girl looks like today (with a brand new first grader of her own):

I think we're pretty blessed to have both of them. <3