Paris-themed Lift Top Coffee Table project

Paris-themed Lift Top Coffee Table

You’ve all seen those nifty lift top coffee tables that bring your meal, crossword puzzle, or laptop right up to your comfy seat. Since we love eating in our family room/tv room/home theater room, prefer laptops and tablets, hate desks, and we love our comfy sectionals – getting a couple of these made a lot of sense. Problem is the cheap ones are usually super ugly and the nice ones are usually super expensive. So, like many things in our home, I chose to buy inexpensive pieces and customize them. I started with two of these basic black coffee tables from Amazon. The plan was to have them face opposite of each other in front of our opposite facing sectionals. I also wanted the color and style to match the behind the sofa tables I made from cheap bookshelves.

 

Before

 I wanted Paris themed tables to match out Paris themed ottomans and lamp shades.

 

 

Cost per coffee table (everything was ordered from Amazon except fabric)

$130 coffee table

$15 bronze corners and nailheads

$12 mod podge (orange bottle – luster/glue/sealer, blue bottle super gloss/brilliant)

$5 caster wheels (the table has holes in the feet that allow this)

$3 fabric

Total: $165

Other things used for the project

Exacto knife and/or scissors*

Clamps to hold fabric*

Brushes to brush on mod podge*

Old credit card to smooth mod podge*

Soft Hammer* ( metal hammer scratches nailheads)

* – not included in total because these are things most people have

Tip: if you don’t have a soft hammer, you can attach some felt furniture feet pads from a dollar store to your regular hammer like I did here. When finished, they come off easily with hot soapy water.

 

 STEPS

1. Cut fabric to slightly overlap table and mod podge it to the top and the sides of the top. I used some clamps to hold it while cutting and getting the glue process started. I used an old credit to smooth out bubbles in the fabric.

 

 

2. After the fabric is glued down well and dry (I let it dry overnight) – use exacto knife or scissors to trim the edges. I reapplied the mod podge/glue to areas that didn’t stick well on the edges.

 

3. Then, I used the super gloss mod podge on the top to get a better protective coat. The gloss will look milky when wet, but dries clear.

4. I nailed the bronze corners to the corners, using some of the fancy nail heads,  instead of the tiny nails that came with them.

5. I nailed the bronze nail heads to the edges.

 

 

The finished product

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Democracy is a Dialogue

And it’s messy,

but it’s the best system we have!

Part I

My Hatred of Politics

Eight years ago, I intervened between two colleagues who were going at each other over President Obama. I simultaneously defended and chastised them both. I explained to one that the other wearing an Obama T shirt was appropriate as he was our new president, while explaining to the other one that calling a colleague ridiculous and out of touch was not appropriate, especially in the hallway, and that arguing in front of our young students about politics was never OK. I remember saying to them – I love you both, but I’m not choosing sides, this is what democracy looks like, you don’t always get your way. Admittedly, it was easy for me because I hadn’t voted for either guy.

Much to my husband’s chagrin – until this year – I refused to vote as long as he had known me. I was so sick of the lies, the blame game, and the entrenched political sides – that the last time I voted for president was for Ross Perot. I voted for Perot because I was tired of the status quo choice. You either get liberal academics, with little business acumen, trying to run a very big, very diverse country, OR you get conservatives that wanted to push their own religious agenda on the same diverse country. No matter which side was in power, they all seemed to fight continuously, getting little done, lining their own pockets handsomely, while placating Wall Street and selling out the American people.

Before I begin the rest of my story, I feel this background is needed.

Years ago, (way back in the 80s) I met Donald Trump at a book signing. I went to get a book signed for a roommate as a surprise. The book itself had been a gift from her father and since I didn’t have much money, I thought getting it signed would make for a nice birthday gesture. When I gave her name, he smiled, told me that it was a nice name, but explained he didn’t do names, just his signature, which resulted in me briefly explaining that it wasn’t my name and then why I didn’t have a book of my own (broke single mom) when he asked. We had a brief exchange about how I could change my circumstances in life. He grabbed a book from a nearby stack, opened it, signed it, and handed it to me, and said, “My gift, I know you will be fine.”

His very brief advice:
Find a thing(s) you like, that you do well, and become expert at it.
Find a way to make money at it.

That advice resulted in me ramping up a gymnastics program I had started at Beale AFB, and finding a job working at a school, even though I was mid-degree with no teaching credential at the time. Both served me well as I raised my daughter.

My views of Donald J Trump were in place before he ever ran for president. The DJT the media kept portraying was not the man I met.

This year, I watched all of the debates, and watched closely as CNN (and basically every other MSM network) spun for Clinton and as FOX spun for the GOP. I watched them spin each story, enflaming the American public as much as possible. Taking every word, gesture, and past action, and twisting it, and blowing it way out of proportion to fit their agenda. The media spin was worse than I’d ever seen in my lifetime. The news people and their lies finally disgusted me more than the people running for office.

CNN: Wikileaks is illegal – you must get it from us

Trump DID mock a reporter, but NOT because he was disabled – it was because the reporter LIED about his OWN published story

 

Things that struck me as unusual this year:
RNC – Trump, a political outsider, actually getting the nomination and Peter Thiel, an openly gay techie genius billionaire from Silicon Valley, throwing his full support behind Trump and speaking at the convention. I read Ivanka Trump’s proposal on how to help working women. I was watching as the party I had come to view as intolerant bible thumpers – reach out to the “outsiders” and acknowledge women as more.
DNC: – Democrats not listening to and following their own base, basically anointing Clinton, and CA delegates for Bernie Sanders being treated poorly at the convention. I was watching as the party that preached diversity, peace, and tolerance – became less peaceful, less tolerant, and no more diverse than the other side.

It was a strange thing to witness.

 

Part II

My Cross Country Trip

I drove cross country along I 40 and back in an RV shortly before the election. Getting to my daughter’s house by vehicle took me directly through some of what many people often refer to as the “fly-over”states. Before that trip – it was a given that Clinton, in my mind at the time, as much as I detested her (and her husband) – would be the next president.

To my surprise, on the trip east, I saw and counted:
161 Trump signs (a dozen of them from CA farmers on I 5)
2 Clinton signs (both in CA and sponsored by the Bunny Ranch)
And a half a dozen Gary Johnson signs.
The signs made little sense to me, but I just supposed that Clinton supporters just figured she had it so sewn up, why spend money on signs.

While driving down to the Fiesta Bowl with my dad, I noticed all the Trump signs on I 5 now have Thank You signs over Trump’s name.

That trip opened my eyes. I talked to people at truck stops and RV parks that were angry, worried, sad, and hurting. And not just a little bit. They were angry because their forced, useless, high deductible healthcare was going up to twice what their rent was. Others didn’t even have the money for that and were forced into paying the tax penalty. Many of those people had not yet recovered from losing a home in the mortgage crisis. I talked to union members who were angry at their unions for supporting a nominee with no input from them. Oh, how I related to that! I talked to people who were worried and sad that they had been laid off due to company closures and who were now living in the family RV. They were working odd jobs, many just trying to find a minimum wage job, feed their children, and get them to school on time. These people were not part of the alt-right, they were beaten down every day Americans.

I couldn’t even find many Clinton supporters in Arkansas, (there visiting my daughter) but heard stories about threats, beatings, deaths and disappearances of those speaking out about the Clinton’s dirty dealings, Bill’s sexual escapades, and Hillary’s racism – including the common use of the N word when referring to the help. These people were not part of the alt-right, they were people with real experiences.

Even after that, on my drive back to CA, I was still convinced Clinton would win because of the numbers in places like NYC, LA, and SF.

Part III

What Happens in a Democracy

As Michael Moore projected in his pre-election diatribe (I detest him too) those beaten down people got out and voted. But, he was wrong about it being a FU vote. They didn’t vote as a FU, they voted for Trump because they really felt as if they had nothing left to lose, but they still had two things that were free to every citizen – they had hope and their vote. Middle America was not bullied by the arrogant coastal elites, Hollywood, or the media. They voted and they got their way through the electoral college.

And yes, the electoral college IS relevant. Our forefathers put it in the constitution for a very good reason. Learn WHY, before you decide it should be thrown out as irrelevant.

Why the Electoral College is Necessary

Clinton did win the popular vote, but one has to wonder – how many conservatives in huge states like California and New York (the reason she won the popular vote) didn’t bother to vote because they knew their state would go blue, regardless. And yes, the vice versa could be said for the red states, but how many of those can compete with the populations of California and New York?

 

Since I have long detested both parties, watching Trump take on both political sides, (let’s face it – he’s not really a republican and was a liberal democrat his whole life until he ran for president) the out of control propaganda media machine, and Hollywood elitists, has been the greatest political pleasure of my lifetime.

My trip reminded me of something that I already knew in the back of my mind, that people in coastal CA (especially Hollywood and the Bay Area) are hopelessly out of touch with the rest of the country, their pain, as well as their real life experiences with the Clintons.

Those that would rather support obstruction, place blame, call people like Steve Harvey, Senator Tim Scott, family of MLK Jrs – house n*****s, Uncle Toms, and other equally appalling names, and live in their echo chamber are probably going to guarantee Trump a 2nd term. I’m still at a loss as how women can be up in arms about Trump talking about grabbing women by the p****, but Bill Clinton gets a pass on actually DOING IT – repeatedly! And don’t even get me started on the peaceful protestors – turned rioters. (Note: I am OK with protesting, but when you block freeways, assault others, start fires, smash windows, or do anything else harmful or illegal – that’s called rioting!)

Trump doesn’t scare me near as much as having a R house and senate. It’s easier to see clearly when you aren’t loyal to a party. I still don’t have a party because both sides are still too far entrenched in their side.

I don’t have a party because I want things that don’t fit neatly in party lines.
I want:
Basic health care for all, that people can actually afford AND use.
Rights for all citizens, including LGBTQ and women’s right.
A closed border, a halt on immigration from high risk countries, a deportation of criminals who are in our country illegally, as well as a path to citizenship for productive members of our society.
A Supreme Court where things like upholding the 2A and a woman’s right to make choices about their own bodies – are both equally important.
An overhaul of the educational system, preferably where the federal government returns more of the control to individual states. I’ve long wanted the Department of Education to cease to exist.

The only path I saw to any of that happening was Trump, and like Middle America, I don’t care what you think about it. My vote belongs to one person – me. If you hate me for that, we were never friends to begin with, and I’m OK with that. On the other hand, you might want to quit calling people racists, misogynists, and other names because they voted their own conscience and in their own best interest. You might want to take just a few minutes to listen to the other side. You just might be the one out of touch.

There is a reason Mark Zuckerberg made his New Year’s resolution to travel this year. He realizes what many people are not, California is way out of touch with much of America. Both sides have an obligation to listen to the other side. Many people were scared when Obama took office. Now, some are scared because Trump is president. This IS what democracy looks like. It is scary, it is messy, and it requires a dialogue, not a monologue in an echo chamber.

I’d like to point out the obvious, since many are missing the point. Without democracy, without a variety of voices being heard, our country could look like North Korea or Saudi Arabia. We could be experiencing the current events of socialist Venezuela. If you think you’d be OK with that – go live in any of those countries for a year and let me know how it goes, I’d truly be interested in your thoughts.

 

Note: Yes, I realize that the USA is not a TRUE democracy, but I used the word “democracy” the way it is typically understood in our society. We have a republic, but many people have no idea what the word “republic” means.

“Not Another IKEA Hack” Sofa Table

But just as good, and probably cheaper!

 

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And definitely more practical. In case, you haven’t noticed – Sofa tables are EXPENSIVE! Even the cheap black laminate one at IKEA (which is 3 pieces of laminated particle board) is SIXTY American dollars!  Yeah, no. Not doing that. I surfed the web for images to get ideas and made a small idea board. I liked the idea of a sofa table doubling as built in TV trays

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 I started with 2 black Mainstay 3 shelf bookshelves that I already had, but they are cheap enough to buy new at Walmarts. They usually run about $13 -15 a piece, meaning if you use 2 as I did – your sofa table will cost about $30. Not to be stating the obvious, but I will, to keep someone from emailing me –  If you want a longer table – use more. The bookshelf has a height of about 31″ or about the same height of a normal dining room table and are perfect for the backs of most sofas. There are certain perks if you buy them new – it’s easier, cam screws are a pain to undo.

Options: If you want more of an open sofa table look, you can leave off the black cardboard and use one or more shelves to stabilize the piece. Use the shelf hooks to place shelves horizontally. Or use the extra screws to place a shelf vertically – either at the top or bottom of the piece.

Bookshelf

To get the look I went with:

Step 1. Put the top of the shelf and the sides together, but leave off the bottom shelf and kick board.

Step 2. Put the cardboard back on with the nails provided, using one of the shelves to make sure your project is square.

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Step 3. Use one of the shelves to stabilize the bottom – you can screw it on for stability if you want. I didn’t because mine fit really tight and will be up against the sofa back.

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I used some rolling Paris script stools I already had, but you can use any stools that are chair height, or even kitchen chairs.

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Honey had to inspect and approve of my handywork.

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Bye Bye RV Jack Knife Sofabed

Hello Pretty New RV Sofa Option

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Bye Bye Jack Knife Sofabed

aka as the bane of RV sleeping

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It was easily removed with a screwdriver and a wrench.

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I kept the hardware that secured it to the wall and floor and sold the sofa bed on Craigslist for $60. I put it up for $100 obo, but truthfully, I really just wanted someone to just take it away. If the guy had offered $20 – I would have taken it. I almost wanted to give him money to take it away!

Now What?

Things to consider:

1. Fit – new choice must fit through the door and allow for the current walk space.

2. Cost – budget was $300 at most, less if possible

3. Seat Belts – wanted to still be able to use them

4. Seating – still wanted a sofa there

5. Bedding – still wanted a bedding option there

6. Comfort – not top of list, but definitely a concern. Basically anything more comfortable than a board with springs and an inch of padding would be an improvement.

 

Step 1

Since the old frame basically had to go with the old sofa, (fit and material) I decided to start with a basic frame using the bolting hardware from the old sofa and some precut 2x4s from Home Depot. I used L brackets to brace corners for more security. Spent $10.

27 inches deep X 2

67 inches long X 2

I made this frame low because I originally planned on a higher seating option, but I didn’t build up frame when I changed my mind, because I’m 5 feet tall, and it was a nice height for me. It would be perfect for young kids.

Note: If you are worried about a loss of storage space, or how low this sits,  you could combine this idea with my window seat project using prefab cabinets.

Window Seat

Step 2

Decide what to put across frame to support your new sofa. I had some leftover $2 IKEA cabinet doors from a recent project. (4x$2=$8)  I used them because they were already the perfect size, but getting something cut to size at Home Depot wouldn’t be any more expensive. I left spaces to pull the seatbelts through. I actually had to unscrew and replace the boards when I realized I forgot to pull all the seatbelt pieces through at the right areas. This is the before photo, I forgot to take an after photo.

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Step 3

Figure out what you are going to put there. I originally chose 3 armless club chairs, but when I put them side by side – they were not comfortable enough, especially if I tried to stretch out – so – back they went.  I remembered my youth and how we had flip chair beds for our family room. It was a true lightbulb moment. I searched the Internet and found what looked to be a perfect solution. I needed 2. This photo is my dear Honey reminding me that her car seat normally sat right here on the old sofa.

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 Step 4

Secure both flip chairs with seatbelts and/or bungee cords. I used both. I used U clamps screwed right into holes where the Sofabed had been attached with L brackets. Everyone knows that putting new screws in your RV is not a good idea, if it can be helped.

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Step 5 ~ ENJOY!

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Notes:

I stayed way under budget. Subtracting the $60 for the old sofa, the total was about $100

These are indeed an improvement in comfort over the old sofa, but I plan to carry some extra cushion (maybe memory foam?) to go on top – for the bedding option. They won’t last as long as the old sofa, but they are cheap enough to replace if/when needed.

I wanted a center console, but I also wanted to be able to stretch out. Solution, I left a space at the end of the frame to build in a console. Or I might just put small lunch bags and dollar store tote caddies there. Whatever path I choose, it either has to be flat or something easily removed as to not hinder the bedding option. This also allows easier entrance via the coach door when loading up

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The chair beds I chose allow for one to flip open on the sofa frame and the other to open up and go up in the cabover area for another bed. 2 of these can fit in the cabover over area and I may even buy 2 more for that area. They can also be removed and taken outside if that is your thing as the backs ratchet like a lawn chair and don’t need to be against a wall.

Amazon carries these Your Zone flip chair beds, in many different colors, and I was able to get a bundle – 2 for $150 on a Prime Special, so keep your eyes out if you go this route

WARNING: The plastic feet on the backs and bottoms of the particular flip chairs I chose were cheap, bent, and awful. Had they been rubber – they could gave been helpful, but they weren’t. They scratched everything they came into contact with and made the sofas slide around. Simple fix – unscrew them and throw them away! If the open screw holes bother you – I suggest some cheap furniture feet – cork or pads from a dollar store.

Your Zone Flip Chair

 

Flip Chair Convertible Sleeper Dorm Bed Couch Lounger Sofa, Gray


Whether your kids are studying, hanging out with friends, or lounging around, this flip chair is the perfect addition to any room. It is flexible enough to suit the activities of your children with its three convertible positions. It can unfold into a bed with one part remaining folded to serve as a pillow for guests. It can completely fold up into a comfortable chair, and can serve as a reclining lounge chair. The space-saving conversions can be easily made in no time. This kid’s flip chair is made of a plush ultra-suede material for added comfort. It is not only multi-functional but also trendy and will add to the ambience of any room. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns. There is no assembly required.
New From: $199.00 USD In Stock

Cute Jelly Jar Recycle

 

Cute Jelly Jar Recycle

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On one of our trips to Paris, at a small cafe, I was served a tiny jar of jelly with my breakfast. I fell in love. Well, as much as one can with a jar of jelly. A couple days later, I saw some at a local grocery store around the corner from our Paris apartment and decided to bring some home. I put them in baggies and wrapped them in my clothes, and hoped they’d make it back safely.

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Originally, they were supposed to be a special treat, but in time, I gave up all other brands and started eating only Bonne Maman jelly. The biggest reason was because I love the taste. Another reason was because it is made with natural ingredients that I could actually read and pronounce, and no high fructose corn syrup! Win/Win!

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Note: While I used to carry these back from France or have them shipped ~ I now find this brand in Target, Walmart, and a few other grocery stores.

The jars were so cute with their special angled shape and their gingham tops that I could never bring myself to throw them away. After I had collected about a dozen ~ I decided to try something I’d seen in passing a while back on Pinterest.

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I had a few leftover crystal knobs from another project, so I decided to use those. I used my trusty battery operated black n decker drill and drilled holes in the middle of the very thin lids. Added the knobs and hardware.

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Voila!

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September 11, and a man named Nabil

While many of my thoughts today were of sadness, lives lost, and what Patriot Day means – I had some other thoughts too. Things I had not thought about in a very long time. Writing is usually cathartic to me. I’m not sure this time will be.

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My September 11 thoughts:

I never thought much about terrorists and certainly didn’t have the words “radical Islam” in my vocabulary in 1981 when I was a student at Weber State, but that year, the same year my daughter was born, is the year I realized it existed – even though I didn’t have the words.

While a student at Weber State, I worked nights and graveyards at Sambos, a 24 hour coffee shop, in Odgen, Utah. There was an intelligent, vibrant, thoughtful man by the name of Nabil that frequented my station. Nabil was a Libyan national that had studied at Weber State and had stayed in the U.S. after graduation, working for a Libyan gas and oil company. Despite being an Air Force brat and having friends of many races, religions, and nationalities –  Nabil was the 1st Muslim I became truly friendly with. Much to my surprise, Muslim students were very common at the very “Mormon” Weber State. Unlike me, pretty much the only white non-Mormon girl on campus. Nabil loved to discuss music, politics, relationships, religion, dating within and outside one’s religion, and literature – late into the night. No topic seemed offensive or off the table. On one of our late night conversations, as I was refreshing his coffee, I jokingly asked Nabil how I ended up as the “minority” at Weber. He joked back a bit and suggested I become Mormon or Muslim and all my problems would be solved. He then shared with me that his country felt that colleges that were predominantly Mormon were a good fit due to perceived religious lifestyle similarities, especially dating and marrying within one’s own religion.

Nabil always requested to be seated in my station and I never really understood that. So, I asked him one day. He told me that he always sat in my station when I was working because I respected his religion more than he did because I was the 1st person to think to tell him that the bean soup had pork in it. He also shared that while he didn’t care that there was pork in the soup, he found it to be a sweet, sincere gesture. He also found out that my father had been stationed in Saudi Arabia and when he briefly met him once, they discussed countries and cities they had both been to, and that he really liked and respected my dad – and therefore we had some connection. I did not understand what he was talking about at all at the time. I often didn’t.

He really was a funny and thoughtful guy. Once he made me a paper rose bouquet from napkins and straws when he found out I was working on my birthday. He shared that he came to love America and what it stood for in his mind. Freedom, fireworks, birthday cakes, he grew to love it all. He had an American gf and had decided not to return to Libya. He said Ogden was a perfect spot – his gf was a jack – Mormon and he would become a jack – Muslim. Then he would laugh. He also had a super serious side and  told me on more than one occasion, always in a lowered voice, that he worried that there were many, too many, “extreme countrymen and other extreme Muslims” as he called them – that wanted the western world to cease to exist. Literally, like convert or die – cease to exist. He worried that too many of his fellow countrymen were straying very far from what he felt was their true religion. He often spoke about his doom and “world doom.” He often told me to marry, have a family, and go live in a small town, be a teacher, enjoy the American dream – but, not in a big city, so that I’d be safer. He said war always starts in big cities. I remember thinking at the time that he was being a bit dramatic. I was young and dumb and despite being an Air Force brat, I had grown up in the American cocoon and had no clue what he was talking about.

A rather surly man named Mohamed came in with Nabil occasionally. Mohamed never came in alone. He refused to speak to females, which caused a problem because the whole wait staff was female and our male fry cooks would have none of his nonsense of him barking his order over the counter to them. He would have Nabil order for him, then chastise him for speaking to a “slave girl.” Nabil never seemed to be at ease around Mohamed. They usually argued throughout their whole meal. I didn’t understand that this was not a traditional friendship and asked Nabil why he was friends with such a character. He told me that they were not friends, merely countrymen that were paired to keep tabs on each other. I could not comprehend, at the time, what that was all about.

The last time I saw Nabil, it was early spring of 1981 and I was no longer working at Sambo’s. I was married, pregnant, and we met by chance as I stopped in with a couple former waitress friends for a late night snack. He joked that I was half way to his dream for me – I just needed to find a small town and be happy.

I was living in California by the time the following took place.

What the report below won’t tell you is that prior to what happened is that Nabil’s gf, also not understanding the gravity of his situation, told Mohamed that she and Nabil planned to marry and that she planned to help him get citizenship once they were married and Nabil would not be returning to Libya.

Shortly after, Nabil was found shot to death and left in the trunk of his own car. Mohamed was arrested at the airport on his way back to Libya.

I try to believe that the Muslim religion is supposed to be one of peace because Nabil told me so. He also taught me that the word Islam does not exactly mean peace, but to give over of oneself in a peaceful way – more of a submission. I also know that he told me that he feared that his religion had been hijacked by extremists for political purposes and he was extremely worried it wouldn’t end well for anyone. Especially him. RIP Nabil.

If only there were more Nabils in the world, and people to listen to them, and people to protect them.

The death of Nabil

 

 

Easy RV Sink Covers

RV Sink Covers

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Anyone that has ever spent any time in an RV knows space is at a minimum. You search for ways to make items and areas do double, even triple duty. It is very common to use sink covers, sink inserts, and/or cutting boards to turn your sink into extra counter space. Most newer RVs come with them.

Itsy, our older class C motorhome, was like new when we got her, but since she was manufactured in 1997, she is often lacking basics that newer RVs usually have. I’m not sure if she had factory sink covers when she was new or not ; if she did, they were missing when she came into our life. There are pictures of her having one sink cover, but it was no where to be found when we took possession. Either way, I coveted the missing counter space. I decided to formulate a plan to “recover” that missing counter space. Itsy has a double sink, with each sink being 11″ x 15″  ~ or, 15″ x 22″ worth of counter space just waiting to be reclaimed.

I first looked where any experienced RVer would look, at Camping World of course.

Issue #1 – they didn’t carry the exact size we needed in any finish.

Issue #2 – the covers that came the closest to fitting ran about $20 each for cheap plastic ones, $25 each for stainless look plastic ones, and $35 each for wooden ones.

YIKES! I really wanted wood covers, but I couldn’t picture myself paying $70 for sink covers that didn’t even exactly fit. I’d be mad about what they cost every time we drove down the road and they rattled around.

Then, I looked online – pretty much had the same issues. I found a cut to order site. Yeah, at $75 each with an extra $10 charge for a finger hole and a $15 shipping charge – I decided to pass on those too.

Out bargain shopping with my mom, I found what I hoped would work. Since the measurements were very close, with the length being perfect and the width being only a half inch too wide, and each cutting board only cost $7 at Big Lots, I decided to take a chance. With a little hand-sawing, sanding, and spade bit drilling, Itsy now has new wooden, bamboo to be exact, sink covers. Bonus: these are actually cutting boards.

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Whole project, excluding the day out shopping of course, took a little over an hour. After sawing a little excess on each side, I spent quite a bit of time gradually sanding, as I wanted them to fit snugly.

Total cost: $15

(A bit more if you have to purchase a spade bit, sand paper, or a saw – I already had those things)

If you like doing DIY projects, and you haven’t learned to use spade bits on your drill – to cut holes – let me assure you – it’s not as scary or as hard as it looks. Like regular drill bits, you can buy the one size you need, but I’ve always found it more cost effective to buy a set when it comes to purchases like this.

Tip # 1. Use a thick salvage board under where you are drilling

Tip # 2. Make a pilot hole all the way through to your underboard

Tip # 3. Go slow with the drill

I have this set, I haven’t used them all yet, but I’m working on it!

Our Quest for a Class C

imageFor the last 7 years, we spent most of our summers, and at least one spring break, in Europe, due to the fact that the kids were stationed in Germany. Jetsetting and traveling by trains and ferries all around Europe was something I never dreamed about doing. I took several years of French in high school and always planned to visit Paris, but I never planned to make repeated trips to Europe. I certainly never planned on getting apartments for extended stays in places like Paris, Rome, London, and Amsterdam.  I won’t lie ~ it was awesome ~ fun, educational, and EXPENSIVE!

Now that the kids are firmly back on American soil, and have purchased a house in Little Rock, we decided to try traveling a different way. My husband always comments on how I prefer to get suites or apartments that have kitchenettes so I can make at least some of our food. He also points out that I never want the maids invading my space and that I leave the “Do Not Disturb” sign on for our whole stay. When we get into a hotel room, I usually have my own pillow. Then I  start by unpacking our ice chest, loading the hotel fridge, and remaking the bed. Add the fact that I really, really hate flying, and well, a motorhome seemed like a no-brainer. We are not campers, but the idea of a rolling hotel with a kitchen appealed to us.

What kind? Hmmmm …class A – too big and scary to drive. Class B – way too small for comfort. Class C – big enough for comfort for a few days and drives like a truck. I think Goldilocks would have approved of our decision.

A new class C having the options we wanted started around $60-70k. WOWZA! Ok, so I started the search for that elusive, older, one owner, low mileage Class C that had the options we wanted.

The Budget and The Laundry List of Must Haves

Automatic, self-contained, couch, dinette, kitchen, generator for boondocking in a parking lot on cross country trips to see the kids, an awning, and preferably a separate bedroom in the back of the RV. We also really liked the split bath. It must have low miles, preferably one owner, a perfect car fax report and in excellent overall condition. The budget was between  $10k and 20k, depending upon the age, mileage, options, etc. Exactly what everyone else looking, is looking for. We finally found exactly that, but not without some trials and tribulations. It seemed like every time I called on one that looked to be what we were looking for (and I called on many) in our price range – it was already sold, often to a dealer. I’m not using many names of people involved in this story in order to protect the privacy of people I liked, as well as the privacy of those I didn’t.

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Our Winnebago Itasca Spirit

 

We started on Craigslist. It did make for some interesting day trips. Warning!!! Skip the rest of this paragraph if you are squeamish or a germophobe!!! My advice to the sellers of the very 1st one we drove all the way to south Sac to look at – is that if you are asking $13k for your 15 year old motorhome, perhaps you should make sure there is not urine in the toilet. Another tip – do not leave used feminine hygiene products on night stands. I was already in the car – dousing myself in alcohol wet wipes, as my parents and husband figured out that it had leaked in the over cab area and the generator wouldn’t start.

After that we moved on to dealerships. For the most part – they were clean and well maintained. Most of the ones we looked at were also priced well above the NADA RV price (like a Kelly blue book site for RVs) – sometimes even double that price. We went to dealers all over Sacramento and Davis. We saw some nice ones, but nothing that really ever felt like a comfortable temporary home in our price range. Some dealerships were better that others. We liked American Motorhomes in Sacramento and America River RV in Davis.

Hmmm… OK, so back to Craigslist. This part is to warn others about some of the pitfalls of dealing with flakey, less than honest, and downright unscrupluous sellers. This part is about a few we didn’t buy. They all may, or may not be, still for sale.

1. I found this beautiful 20 year old Gulf Stream that had 9k miles for $12k in Carmichael. After several phone tags on a Saturday with a gentleman named Tony – we set up a meeting to look at it after he and his family attended church on Sunday. We were to meet them at their house. When we arrived at the given address, we found ourselves in the parking lot of a barbershop. When we asked about it, they told us they only lived a block away, and that friends owned the barbershop, and they had permission to park there as they didn’t really have space to park it at their home. Tony, the gentleman we spoke with on the phone was not present – just his two roommates, which immediately made us a little wary. We soon found out that we couldn’t check anything out because there was no where for a power hookup as the barbershop was closed on Sundays. We suggested maybe  driving it to their house to plug it in, but they declined and said they couldn’t give us a reason. Odd. The motorhome itself did not disappoint. It was absolutely beautiful, inside and out, and indeed looked like new. It had beautiful, plush, deep teal cushions that looked like they had never been sat upon. The stove, microwave oven, and shower had never been used as they still had the original stickers and paper manuals taped inside. As we looked at the motorhome the interaction got stranger. The female half of the couple showing it kept calling Tony, our original contact, to answer our questions. The story was that the motorhome belonged to Tony’s dad, but his dad had developed Alzheimers shortly after the purchase and never really got to use it, so it sat for almost 20 years unused. Tony was selling it, because they needed money for his dad’s care. Tony was very busy all the time and couldn’t meet us because he was a good god-fearing church going man and dedicated all his time to his church. I lost count of the times this Alzheimers/church story was repeated. During our inspection, we couldn’t start the generator. We suggested the battery needed charged. Come to find out the battery compartment was locked. We couldn’t even turn on a light. Then we were told that it didn’t matter that she had no key, so we could look at the battery, as Tony had the battery out charging it up. We couldn’t check out anything on the coach. Even though the motorhome started right up, with the one key she had, she refused to let us drive it because the registration was out of date. Who agrees to pay $12k for any used vehicle that they can not test drive? As we were looking through the motorhome, Marc found the license plate under the seat, which we thought to be very odd. Her excuse was it fell off and they just hadn’t put it back on yet. He snapped a picture of the license, so he could run a carfax later. While we were looking, the girl took several phone calls – supposedly fending off other buyers. After the third one, she said if we liked it, we’d need to put a deposit down right away, or she would have to show it to others. She said she’d need at least a $1000 deposit. While she and Marc discussed why that was not happening, until we could check things out,  even though we were very interested – I found the registration and snapped a photo. Marc told her if she could bring the motorhome and Tony to DMV the next day – with a charged battery, we would check it out, and if everything worked as they said, we would give them cash as we transferred the title. She then called Tony and he said that he too busy so that was impossible, but he could hold it for a while for $500, instead of $1000, until he had time. Really? Someone offers you the 12k cash you are asking for, for your item, but you don’t have time? Odd again. We loved it, but we wished them well and walked away. Shortly after we left, the girl called us and said she would text us the address on Wednesday, the next time Tony was available, to California RV and dealership (no such dealership exists that we have been able to find) and if everything checked out – we could give her a deposit there. We made it clear, we would never give her a deposit, but if we came and everything worked, we would pay cash at DMV while we transferred the title. We never heard from her again. But…the motorhome still shows up for sale on Sacramento Craigslist from time to time, with the same phone number. If you call, (no texting) they tell you how much interest they have in it, so you if you come to look at it, you will need a deposit. Marc, using the registration pic I snapped, and the license photo he snapped – ran a carfax and we researched the title. There had indeed only been one owner and the 9k miles had been put on the RV in the first two years of its life. Then the registration lapsed for over a decade. According to our research, the real owner lives in Placerville, bought the motorhome new 20 years ago and he is now 45 years old. Meaning, if their story was true, he got Alzheimers at age 25, and allowed this RV to sit for 20 years?  We tried to call and speak to the registered owner, because we were actually still interested in the RV, but his phone was disconnected. We suspect this is a deposit scam, and they are just using an RV they have access to, (or maybe one of them actually owns it?) and if they get deposit $ from someone, they and the motorhome will disappear. Or maybe everything they said was true, and someone will give them a deposit and close the deal. I’ve also heard that pigs can fly.

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The Gulf Stream

2. Another older class C – this time a Jamboree in Yuba City for $8k that we actually never looked at in person. I called and was told it was sold. Two days later, it appears on Craigslist again. I figure deal fell through – I call again and get voicemail. I leave a message, reminding him that I called before, and am still interested, but never get a return call. Ad disappears, I figure he did sell it after all. Several days later, a new listing with the same motorhome and phone number appears. I started thinking maybe the guy didn’t want to deal with a woman. I show ad to Marc when he gets in from a job in San Francisco. Marc calls. Guy says it is still for sale and it just passed smog. He tells Marc he has plans the next morning, but will call after noon and set up a time for us to look at it, probably around 2 or 3.  We wait until after 2. He doesn’t call. Marc calls, leaves message. Never heard from the dude, but he did update the ad 3 days later with more information. We didn’t call. We chalked it up to just another Craigslist confused super flake.

 

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Yuba City Jamboree

3. The last one was actually in Wheatland, a stone’s throw from the Wheatland Ranch house. After a quick trip to Arkansas to visit the kids, we got back to the San Francisco condo about midnight Saturday night. The fact that we were away is why we didn’t see the ad that posted on Friday evening, until Sunday. It was for a Toyota class C mini for $11k with low miles and was listed by owner. It wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but we thought it might be a great starter and from our research, we knew they were in high demand. The price was right, and we knew we’d enjoy the great gas mileage. So, we called. We were told that we were speaking to the owner of the Wheatland dealership and that the motorhome was actually at the dealership on HWY 65. We agreed to meet in 30 minutes – the soonest he could get there. Again, we ended up meeting someone else other than the person we spoke with on the phone. This person (supposedly the owner’s brother that worked at the dealership as a salesman) did not know anything about the motorhome and was not able to answer any of our questions. When we asked for a key to one of the locked compartments, he told us that the rest of the keys were in the office and he didn’t have keys to the office. We began to wonder if this was another scam. Who proclaims to work at a dealership, but has no keys to the place? Then he told us that he had someone else coming to look at it, but his brother said we had the right of 1st refusal, since we were there 1st. We wanted to test drive it, but it had no gas and the guy showing it said he had no way to buy gas – no money on him he said.  We took it to Chevron next door and we put $5 of gas in it ourselves just so we could drive it out to Dairy Road to see what it drove like if you put it on the highway. An East Indian gentleman showed up while we were at the gas station and started talking to our salesman. I knew I had met the man somewhere before, but couldn’t quite place him. He explained that he was interested in the motorhome. I explained that we just put gas in it and were test driving it as we were very interested. He looked annoyed, but indicated he would go wait at the dealership. When we got back from the test drive, we decided we were still very interested and called my sister, Deb and her husband, Tim – very experienced RVers to show us how/if some things worked – since the kid showing it didn’t seem to know anything and was unable to answer any of our questions. They arrived in about 5 minutes, as they were at my parents’ house by the high school. They spent 10 minutes checking things out. Tim on the outside and Debbie on the inside. I told the kid showing it that we were fairly certain, but needed a few minutes to discuss their findings. While they helped us check out the RV, the so-called Wheatland dealership salesman ignored us, and began a heated discussion with the other gentleman by his car. This had all taken less than an hour from the time we originally arrived on the lot. As we were in the process of exiting the RV, with the plan to tell him that we’d give him his asking price – he rudely and rather loudly banged on the side of the motorhome and announced, “Everybody out – this gentleman is giving me 10.5 cash right now, he is buying it. It is his now, GET OUT!” When we protested, and said we were going to give him his 11k asking price – he said that it was too late as his dad (huh, when did his dad enter the picture?) wanted him to sell it to the other guy because he was a dealer and they do a lot of business with him and he wouldn’t be able to get us the title for at least two weeks anyway – even if we wanted to buy it today. Huh? Then he said, “If you don’t have $11k cash on you right now, you weren’t ready to buy anyway. Besides, we will get more business from this guy.” Say what? Who carries around $11k cash on a Sunday night? What happened to the right to 1st refusal that you and your brother assured us of? What dealer/salesman speaks to a potential future customer like that? We were not quite sure what was happening, but we had seen RVs sold at dealers while we were looking and never witnessed anything like this. Once at American Motorhomes (see Lester, super nice guy) we entered an RV, and the dealer told us right away that it was on hold while the people that wanted it wen t to the atm to get their deposit. We weren’t quite sure what was happening at Wheatland RV, but we did know this was not how it usually worked at a dealership. My sister and my brother-in-law were equally shocked. They had never seen anything like it, at a dealership, or with a private owner. After several heated phone conversations with the dude that proclaims to be the owner, my only response to anyone reading this ~ is this ~ IF you are dealing with the Wheatland RV dealership – and I’d highly suggest you don’t, good luck with that. As far as I am concerned, they have NO BUSINESS being in business in Wheatland. They say they are local and want to serve local people, but that is hogwash. They are rude, not truthful, and very unprofessional. The impatient man that bought the RV was in fact, the dealer from B&L RV. After we left, Marc and I remembered meeting him briefly on one of our dealership outings. The Toyota mini in question showed up on his lot 2 days later for $17,950. I don’t mind dealers making a profit, it is what they do. I do mind the way the rude, unprofessional way the dealers from Wheatland and B&L chose to behave. I’d steer clear of both.

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 The Toyota Mini at B&L

After the Wheatland experience, I decided I was going to take a break from looking. It was too time consuming and frustrating. Besides Marc had a busy week in the city, and if I found anything, I was on my own. But…by Tuesday afternoon, right after school, I was looking again! The perfect motorhome – checked every single box on the list – was listed in Lincoln. $11k for a 97 Winnebago with 31k miles with the floor plan we wanted. I called, got the husband, told him I was a little scared to come alone. He informed me that he wasn’t even home yet, and wouldn’t be for a while, but he would check with his wife. A few minutes later, she called me and said I was welcome to come look at it, but she didn’t know how much help she would be, as she knew nothing about it, except the story. She explained that it had belonged to her husband’s parents, they bought it new in 97, and it was their pride and joy. They named it “Itsy” and kept it garaged. The husband’s dad got too sick to travel, and after it sat for almost a decade, he decided that someone should enjoy it and tried to pass it on to the kids. She decided after one outing to Donner Lake, RVing was not for her. Their garage was not big enough for it and they were paying to store it outside and after a year, they noticed it started showing wear. She told her husband, if they sold the motorhome, they could afford the classic car he wanted, and they could travel to classic car shows and stay in hotels. They decided to put “Itsy” up for sale and hoped to find an older couple that would take care of it. They were also hoping that would soften the blow of them not really wanting to keep it. They knew the father was afraid a dealer would buy it from them and hundreds of people would be tramping through, destroying what he had babied for almost 20 years. As we were chatting, she heard Honey barking at birds in the background. She asked me if I had a dog. I said yes. She said, well…bring your dog, if that will make you feel safer coming alone. So, I packed up Honey and we went to look. She giggled when she saw our 10lb toy poodle, “That’s your protection?” Honey acted like she had known this lady her whole life and jumped right in her lap as we walked into the RV and sat down on the couch. Anyone that knows us, knows that this is not Honey’s nature. She likes to warm up to people. Sometimes, it takes days, weeks, months even. Laugh if you want, but I took this as a good sign. We walked thru the motorhome and looked at things. I loved it. It felt like home right away. By the time her husband got home, the wife and I were chatting like old friends, but not before a little drama. We had checked out the microwave, opened cabinets, tested the water pump, and the tail lights, but we were both lost beyond that. While we chatted and waited in the motorhome in the driveway for her husband to arrive – the dealer from B&L RV (as he identified himself) called her. She politely told him that she was with a lady that was a potential buyer and she would get back to him, that we were waiting for her husband to get home. She hung up with a shocked look and told me that he was very abrupt and told her to tell the lady to hurry up because he was an important business man from Sacramento and that he had cash and was too busy for games. While we chatted, he called 3 more times in the next 20 minutes. She kept brushing him off. The 3rd time she put him on speakerphone. He was rude and condescending and started demanding her address. “You give me your address right now, I have cash and am ready to buy. I’ll pay more than the woman there. Tell her to leave. Your RV is worth more than she can pay. I talked to your husband, I told him I was coming there. You stupid women have no place doing business. You shouldn’t even be doing this, this is a man’s place. This is my business, tell me your address!” She hung up on him.

Once her husband arrived home, she looked at him and informed him that even if I didn’t buy it, he could, under no circumstances, sell it to the dealer from B&L RV – no matter how much he offered because he had called repeatedly and was very rude to her, not to mention how much that may upset his dad. The husband agreed. He was already annoyed because the guy had called him demanding their address. He had told him that he was not letting a strange man go to his house while his wife was home alone with their kids, and the guy got rude with him too.

 

The husband was able to show me the things we didn’t know how to work. The roof had just been resealed, never leaked, his dad had done it just as a precaution. It had brand new tires, and everything on the coach and in the cab looked new. The shower nor the oven had even been used. He had all the original manuals and receipts in sheet protectors in the original big blue Winnebago binder, as well as the sticker page from the window the day his dad bought it. I agreed to their asking price that was in line with the NADA RV list price.

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The following process protected us both, and I highly recommend doing it this way, if you buy from a private seller. The next day, he got it smogged and brought all the needed paperwork. We met at BofA where he was able to watch me get a cashier’s check in his name. Then we went to AAA and he transferred the title to me and I handed him the cashier’s check. Love doing DMV stuff at AAA, so simple, so fast.

Because they knew my husband was out of town working, and my parents were on vacation, this lovely couple even helped me get the RV home to Wheatland. The husband even backed it into our RV parking. He asked if he could snap a picture to show his dad what a nice new home “Itsy” had. Of course, I encouraged him to do so. Honey posed. I took one too.

 

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Our “new to us” rolling hotel room is a 97 Winnebago Itasca Spirit with a split bath and a rear walk around queen bed. It is a little like a time capsule. The TV is a 13″ box style with a VCR. The cab stereo and the outdoor stereo both have cassette players. The cabinets and cushions look almost like a new retro themed Winnebago we viewed at a dealership. Everything old is new again. One thing I learned in this process is that every motorhome has a story. Taking the time to listen to a stay at home mom that home-schooled her two girls, and was concerned about her father-in-law, helped me find ours.

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View from the back of the coach. Love the couch.

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View from the front of the coach. Nice, large double door fridge. Gets super cold.

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You can walk all the way around the queen sized bed, and there are closets and drawers on each side, as well as storage under the bed. The factory bedding, while not horrible, is already stored away

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Love the split bath. The shower stall has never been used, still has the original sticker.

 

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While we are traveling, Honey’s seat will be belted in at the dinette so she can look out.

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The driver’s seat adjusts perfectly, no pillows needed for my short legs.

If you bought a motorhome, or are currently looking – please feel free to share your experience and/or tips in the comments. We can all learn from each other.

************TV Update***********

I already replaced the box style TV that came in Itsy with a flat screen from our master bath that just happened to have the perfect dimensions. I mean it looks like it came in the RV from the factory perfect. I plan to write a blog post at some point down the road about the TV used, the hardware, and process. I used a $12 swing arm from Amazon – I love that I can swing it out and see it from the kitchen. I think it lightened our load by 100 lbs! Just kidding – but that old 13 inch was HEAVY!

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My “NEW” Farmhouse Style Table

My “NEW” Table

Some people look at Craigslist ads and Yard Sales and see JUNK!

I see items with good lines and think – if someone just showed that piece a little love….

When I saw this piece for $75…

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I envisioned it looking something like this ~ only with much less work and $$$

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I love two tone farmhouse tables, but the ones I saw in stores that had any character were over $2000!!!

The table above was actually built by another blogger. I love it, but when I priced the pieces I’d need, it was getting into the $300-400 range

Since my only child is grown, and my husband often works out of town on weekends – I often have the whole house to myself. So I put the table in its new home in the kitchen, put down a drop cloth, and went to work. First, I washed down the whole table and painted the apron white. I used Behr Ultra Pure White Premium Plus Interior/Exterior Hi Gloss Enamel paint. I’d like to pretend I put a lot of thought into this, but I didnt. It just happened to be in the garage from where I had painted the upper kitchen cabinets almost 2 years ago. It has a glossy glassy like finish and it had held up well on the cabinets getting daily use. As the paint was drying, I pulled a dry brush along the apron to skim off some paint for the shabby chic look, and to make the beautiful rope trim really pop. Then I put in the leaf, to make sure it got painted to match. Then, the legs.

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The weekend was over and I had to put it all back together for a bit. Husband loved the table –  those chairs – not so much, so they didn’t get to stay. We used the table all week. It actually worked much better with the window seat than I thought it would.

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When the following weekend rolled around, my General Finishes gel stain had arrived from Amazon. Add some rubber gloves and some socks for wiping the stain on and we were good to go.

The 1st coat

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The 2nd coatimage

The 3rd coat

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It is hard to distinguish between the 2nd and 3rd coats in pictures  – it looks much richer in person. Tip: use coffee filters between coats to wipe down table – cheap, no lint

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The polyurethane finish I used to protect the top of the table was Ace hardware brand

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That white round was salvaged from a broken little pedestal table. It has a future as an awesome Lazy Susan.

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Kitchen is back together, table leaf is stored away – and I’m loving it! By the way, my new favorite product is General Finishes gel stain ~ love it! Below is a link to the gel stain I used.

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My Favorite Classroom P.E. Video

Perfect P.E. Video for the Classroom

 

Winter is coming soon, and teachers may be looking for indoor P.E. activities. I tested several videos. My 2nd grade class was unanimous in their voting. This one was their favorite.

 

The routines are fun, yet simple, dance routines done in a standing position. They are presented in a classroom environment, by an energetic teacher and several students. You can select from 6 workouts. 4 of the workouts last 5 minutes and 2 of the workouts last 10 minutes. You can select “play all” for a total of 30 minutes of workout. In between each routine, is a brief break, less than a minute, in which healthy tips are provided – such as drinking water and selecting nutritious snacks.

Every morning, as a break from our academic routine, we stand up, push in our chairs, and get moving! No need for mats, or special equipment – students just need a little space by their desks to be able to move around a bit.

I’d say this would work best for 1st – 4th grade. Perhaps a bit younger, or a bit older depending upon the students.

6 Fit Kids’ Fitness Workouts for Children


New From: $14.78 USD In Stock

The Little Stock that Should Rise, Monitise

Yes, the title is cheesy, but it’s a cheesy

situation!

 

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 NOTE: This is not investing advice, it was written for entertainment and thought provoking purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any company.

 

The catalysts for the following event were Monitise lowering guidance twice in one year, losses due to changing their business model to a subscription base over licensing model , and Visa announcing that they may relinquish their shares in the company.

 

Just in case you have been too obsessed with Alibaba (or as Doug Kass says, “Ali Blah Blah”)  this past week to do any reading – I’ll give you a brief background. Visa announced that they may relinquish their 5.5% holding in the small UK mobile money company called Monitise … causing their stock chart to resemble a cliff…er ….vertical line .. going down, straight down, really, really fast, like a hot knife in a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake.

Welcome to Panic City!

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Forbes says Visa says they want to work on their own technology to compete in the mobile $ space. Forbes says they may want to unlock funds to do so.

Really? Odd. Because they just made their funds worth a whole lot less.

Forbes

What they don’t say and this stuff is worth knowing and remembering for the investors holding long – especially those in the house of pain right now.

1. Monitise doesn’t have to rush to develop anything. They have NFC and other patented solutions ready to go right NOW – and this IS happening right now! Yes, some banks have developed their own, or in the process of doing so, but many banks may find themselves playing catch-up soon and find they need a white label payment solution right now….and quickly, like yesterday, or the day before!

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2. Monitise has partnered closely with IBM to work on apps and take advantage of IBM’s cloud services.  Closely enough for Monitise to place 20% of their staff (200 employees) with IBM. IBM must want/need something from Monitise for this to happen as last time I checked, IBM was not a soup kitchen for wayward mobile tech companies. If it’s anything to do with Apple – we may never get the details. EVER. EVER. Did I say …EVER?

 

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3. Apple has partnered with IBM and counting on them to develop more in depth software and apps that Apple wants to see happen as per Tim Cook’s recent interviews. By proxy that makes Monitise a little brother, ok, maybe more of a 2nd cousin twice removed, I mean – an indirect partner of Apple – but…see #4

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4. Monitise can be successful whether or not they are involved with Apple Pay’s token payment system.******** Since they carry agnostic solutions, (meaning working on any handset with any bank, any credit card, etc…NOT agnostic – as in a non believer in God – as I read on an investment board recently) they have a bigger audience because they CAN work with any handset or any bank or any card, even a prepaid card, including – guess what? Yep, even Apple Pay itself. You have to remember that Apple isn’t the only game in town. When you look globally, Apple isn’t even the biggest game in many towns. How many Android phones out there? Yeah, Apple Pay won’t work for any of those. Being able to work with ANYONE is probably what Al Lukies means by 10% of a really big #.

5. Monitise could (read: should) be planning on being into retail with their shopping solutions as much as their banking and intertwining the two. Or why even buy Marcko Media? Why launch YAAP? For their contacts – yes –  but so much more can be done there. Think Groupon. Think Target’s cartwheel app – oh yeah, that thing is dangerous! Anyone need some brocade red and gold drapes?

US Bank's mobile shopping app developed by Monitise

US Bank’s mobile shopping app developed by Monitise

 

6. IBM’s partnership (Monitise by proxy) with Apple has basically made them competitors of ALL other developers or potential developers – including Visa. I mean, they already were – but when Apple Pay was announced, it just amplified it all… like a ringing phone in a cemetery at night.

7. Visa once owned 14.4% of Monitise and now only owns 5.5% – this too shall pass. I saw many investors flat out trashing Visa on Twitter. Don’t judge Visa too harshly – they will be fighting for their life too, in this changing landscape. Oh, you don’t think so? Think about it.

McDonald’s vs. Chipotle – right now!

Remember Tower Records? Blockbuster? Anyone?

8. While mobile payments will be an all out war for a while – with many smaller battles taking place around the world – there can’t be one winner – just as there isn’t one credit card company, one bank, one restaurant chain, or one retail store. Monitise may be small, but they had a head start in the mobile payment arena. Especially when it comes to linking banks and money to mobile handsets. For those that are still not sure this is going to happen, ask yourself one question. Have you ever see a millennial without a phone in their hand (or the very least, their pocket or bag) … EVER?

9. Monitise has put revenue expectations in place for the Marcko Media purchase price and share price expectations for their own directors to get their share bonuses –  all available in the RNS section on the Monitise website. Right now, not so relevant – but it may help you hold your nerve, and get some sleep.

10. Does the Investor Relations division need to do a better job? Yes. Problem is, Monitise may be a little too busy in this battle to hold the hands of their investors. They are still a little company walking alongside Titans. So, you may just need to wring your own hands for a while, vent (nicely please) on Twitter, tend to your garden, do some research, or write a silly blog post. The people at Monitise are a little busy doing what we investors expect them to do and are adding paths to those subscriptions. Like these…

 

Santander

BBM Money

 

 More thoughts on the future of Monitise.

Can Monitise Survive V-Bomb?

The article quotes Barclays as stating that the market clearly over reacted to the stock overhang and loss of future revenue tied to Visa. They also state the loss of Visa as a client as about £10mil in revenue in 2017. By then Canaccord Genuity estimates generating annual revenue of £372 million and adjusted pre-tax profit of £64.3 million for Monitise. (In other words, they don’t need Visa)

 

According to a fellow tweeter Alessandro Grande:

@alegrandebig: @MzJunieBug basically 10x eps 2017. For tsla you pay what 30x 2020.

There are companies out there that have sky-high stock prices that have never shown a profit…Hello Amazon? Or cult stocks that are extremely expensive…Hello Tesla? And the beat goes on. And some people want to pick on Monitise?

My answer: Oh…go pick on someone your own size!

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Note: Monitise is a stock trading OTC and is a high risk stock. Several large US investors own shares of Monitise, but this makes it no less risky.

 

More on Monitise from the perspective of BTIG

BTIG also thinks the market over reacted and that it’s a good time to BUY. They also think a takeover by IBM is increasingly likely.

To be honest, I really want this to play out all the way, without a buyout

******The reason I did not bring up the payment token and NFC patents that Monitise holds: Apple has their own token payment patent from 2009 – (as well as an NFC patent) so not sure if they really need anyone else to make the token part of their payments work. Keep in mind, that many companies hold token payment or NFC patents now, all of them different enough to be granted.

That being said, the patents that Monitise holds are still very important as it protects their own work product and allows them greater access to a wider variety of clients as they can offer a greater range of services and products.

Author is long MONIF, MONI.L, and AAPL

And maybe IBM soon (she said with her tongue firmly planted in cheek)

How I originally invested in this small UK company.

 

 

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Holiday in London

 

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The 1p Easter Egg I never got

 

 

What do you mean a UK company bought Clairmail?

What do you mean a UK company bought Clairmail?

Honey’s Favorite Food

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Honey with Daisy

anxiously waiting for their fresh dinner meal

 

Basic Recipe

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

1 cup minced carrots

12-14 ounces chopped chicken breasts

3 pieces of chopped crisp bacon

3 scrambled or 3 chopped hard boiled eggs

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Directions

Put on rice to cook

I use 1/2 of this brown rice recipe

Cook eggs

Combine chicken, bacon, eggs, and  carrots in a food processor

and pulse until it looks like chicken salad

Fluff the cooked  rice and stir the “chicken salad mix”  into the rice pot

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This recipe makes about 4 cups (32 oz) of food.

I divide the food into 4 oz containers with lids.

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Note: This is fresh food and must be kept in the refrigerator until meal time!

Favorite time saver:

Sam’s Club sells a 5 pack of 13 oz completely cooked, all natural canned chicken breasts for about $10

Smoke and Mirrors in the Market Today

Smoke and Mirrors in the Market Today

 

Step 1. The SEC allows CYNK Technology – a fake, yes fake, social media company that became to be valued between $4-6b and had a rise of 25,000% over the last couple years, to trade with no thought, no investigation, and an obvious caveat emptor attitude towards investors. Wait, what is their job again? Guess Martha Stewart was busy being good, and that pulled their focus.

 CYNK STOCK

Step 2. Some business journalists went on various quests to find out what was going on with CYNK. They struggled to find owners, workers, offices, work product, etc. – but only extremely suspicious activity was found – as in no workers found, office address empty, disconnected phones, etc. I kept reading the reports and got the feeling I was reading the script for a bad episode of Lost. A whole company just disappeared, along with their sole employee.

Step 3. This is all reported. Then, and ONLY then, does the SEC get involved and suspend trading to investigate.

Step 4. Yellen (partly in a lame attempt IMO to cover the SEC’s behind) announces that social media stock, biotech stock, and small caps are overvalued this morning. Some of them probably are, but lumping them all together? Really? Quick, someone shut the barn door – most of horses are out!

Step 5. All of those stocks start jumping off the cliff, like lemmings, while she is talking. This time it felt a little like a possible scene from The Wolf of Wall Street that ended up on the cutting room floor. Did she need a pullback – did she have some stock to buy?

Step 6. Yellen finally stops the noise – I mean, talking. Within two hours, the mini bear market she appears to have caused, begins to recover. All the lemmings climb back up the cliff. Some don’t quite make it – today.

Conclusion: More proof that this administration is all about control, smoke and mirrors and pass the buck.

Just like the CYNK stock!

Don’t worry, though, it’s all just noise!

Note: I never bought CYNK stock, nor do I know anyone who did. I only buy stock of companies that I know actually exist. Just call me old fashioned.

No actual lemmings were hurt in the market today to the best of my knowledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Vacations Rock for Private Investors

Note: This piece is for entertainment only, it is NOT investing advice. Do your own research before investing in any stock.

Vacations are not only fun, they can be important to the private investor.

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Trevi Fountain in Rome, with my husband, Marc.

His iPhone took this picture. It also provided a great walking map app for Rome.

 Forbes recently published this article about why vacations are good for business ideas, specifically start ups.

Forbes article

OK. So, maybe you are not a programmer, and you have no desire to start a business. Just because you may not be interested in manning a startup, does not mean this information does not apply to you. I have gotten some of my best investment ideas – on vacation. As the article states, a vacation allows you time to free your mind. When your mind is free – you can look at the world a bit differently. You may notice things you never noticed in the hustle and bustle of work and your daily life. It matters not so much where you wander, but that you allow your mind to wander.

Ideas that came to me on vacation

AAPL – no matter what continent we traveled, my husband’s iPhone worked – can’t say the same for some of my android equipment. And we saw iPhones and iphone equipment everywhere.
Solution: buy an iPhone, an ipad, and more Apple stock.

NFLX – like one of the founders, a former fellow teacher, I was super annoyed by overdue video charges I rang up on a summer holiday. I admit, I was out of my routine, and being a bit lazy. But, seriously, the charge was more than the movie cost to buy. Also noticed my daughter and many of her friends were ditching video store rentals for Netflix.
Solution: ditch Blockbuster, use Netflix, and buy Netflix stock

SBUX- no matter what country I found myself in, Starbucks was BUSY – people of all ages and incomes, sipping coffee and eating scones. I detest coffee, but I sill found myself drawn to the atmosphere. Always nice, well placed locations, and good service.
Solution: buy Starbucks

 

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Granddaughter Gwen, at Disneyland Paris in the middle pic,

and us at Disneyland in Anaheim on the left, Grandpa  and Gwen ride the teacups

2009

DIS – walking around Downtown Disney in Anaheim, I noticed how diverse Disney had become. Theme parks, toys, movies, TV stations, even ESPN. Disney was also on the rise internationally, with new parks opening. Disney is like a consumer discretionary ETF within itself.
Solution: buy Disney stock

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FB – my family is spread around the world, and we keep in touch via Facebook. I noticed that this was even more important to me when I was traveling. I checked in with the family, and shared vacation photos. And so did my friends. And so did their friends. My younger colleagues tell me they do almost everything through Facebook – Evites, social planning, shopping, listening to music, sending special event gift cards etc.
Solution: buy Facebook stock

 

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London, in the rain, of course 

Your idea may not be a blue chip stock. It might be a tiny little stock no one in your country has ever heard of. Which brings me to Monitise – a UK company.

 

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The 1p egg was as elusive as the Easter Bunny – at least for me – others had great success! 

A London vacation is how I originally found MONI/MONIF stock. (I was trying to purchase a 1p Easter egg off of a billboard, but my US phone wouldn’t work) I was super impressed by the technology provided by Simply Tap – a subsidiary of Monitise. Then Monitise bought Clairmail – a company I was watching, hoping for it to go public. As I researched Monitise, I really liked their approach to mobile money.
Solution: buy Monitise
Note: It sells under the stock ticker MONIF in the US. (MONI in the UK)

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Maybe investing in newer speculative type stocks like FB or the OTC stock MONIF feels too risky. In that case, stick with the tried and true, like Disney. If one invested conservatively and bought 100 shares of Disney at about $25.00 per share 5 years ago today (7/1/09)  it would have cost $2,500.00. Today, as I write this (7/1/14) Disney trades for about $86.00 per share – that is $8,600.00. That is $6,100.00 for the vacation fund, without even taking dividends into account. And now, we all know how important, and profitable, vacations can be.

Please, thoroughly research any company you plan to invest in. I can’t stress this enough!

Full disclosure: Author is long AAPL, DIS, FB, SBUX, and MONIF as of this posting.

Update 7/1/2014

After reading the article, my husband pointed out two I had forgotten about. Ford and Bank of America. We got a Ford Escape rental car on a Disney vacation. Loved it. Upon returning home, I did some research and bought Ford. After a trip to Europe, when our BofA ATM and credit cards worked more often than any of the other cards we carried – I did some research and bought Bank of America.

Also long F and BAC. 

PS. Sold Netflix in early 2014 when the valuation got too crazy, and kept me up at night. These investments took place over the course of a decade – it doesn’t happen overnight.

Love this book. Read it, learn from it. (May want to ignore the blatant advertising for Motley Fool)

Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl: And Why You Should Too


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

Bistro Door or Wall Hook Plaque Project

Many people find that no matter how big their kitchen is, it is never big enough. Well, unless you live in a mansion, and let’s face it, that is not most of us. That  often leaves us without enough space for all those tools and kitchen gadgets we just don’t want to live without. Not to mention, some of those items are cute enough to be on display.

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Since I redesigned our kitchen to a French cafe/ bistro style, I have found a simple solution. If you go into a French cafe, you often find many things hanging on the walls and cabinets. Some are decorative, but in the kitchen area many are useful and often used items. I decided to put this plan of action in place in our kitchen. I have things hanging on walls, on light fixtures, and the cabinets. Some things are too pretty or too awkward for a drawer. This plan fits those items perfectly.

I realized the other day, that I had totally left out the pantry door like a red-headed step child. Note: my apologies to all red-heads and step children everywhere. If you are a red headed step child – double apologies.

Hmmmm….what to do about the pantry door?

Yes, you could just find a couple of cup screw hooks and plant them like I did on the cabinets and light fixture turned pot rack, but where is the fun in that?

My poor pantry door had been neglected too long, it needed more love than that!

Step 1. Find, make, or steal (just don’t call me when you get caught, I’m not a lawyer) a sign that matches your style or decor. It needs to be something you can drill into, so NO glass or other material that will shatter when you start drilling. You can often find the perfect thing at a Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Big Lots or even a dollar store. If you choose the green lifestyle, check out yard sales, thrift stores, or your own garage. etc. More talented people could find an old board and paint it – that would not be me.

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Step 2. Find some robe hooks that you think will look good on your sign and screw them on. I chose the double hanger “drunk octopus” looking ones. Amazon has them in almost a dozen different colors.

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Step 3. Hang your sign on the door- I used bolted screws because my pantry door is hollow and I wanted this sign to stay put.

Step 4. Hang stuff. I chose my French aprons for the door, but on my cabinets I have trivets, utensils, cutting boards, potholders, spoon rests, colanders, etc.

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Useful and Cute!

This project would also work great on bedroom and bathroom doors. Think robes and towels for the bathroom, or the next day’s outfit, sweaters, and scarves for the bedroom.

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Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and you can ask him for one. You can even find these in a store, but they won’t be specifically designed for you, and again –  where is the fun in that?

She Just Wanted Brownies from Amsterdam

I had a recent private email transaction about one of my trip report/travel posts on Amsterdam

 

Went something like this, ok , exactly like this

Once in a while, this blog provides me more entertainment than I bargained for…. I really wish this conversation had taken place via the comment section instead of private emails, but it started via my personal email – so I kept it there – until now. It is too funny not to share. No names, no judgement – but I found this highly entertaining.
E: luv ur blog. amsterdam trip report. can u tell me more. need privat 411 4 surprize
Me: Sure, what do you want to know?
E: where u live?
Me: CA. This may work better if you make a list of questions.
E: k live in cali 2. me my bbf bf r doin a road trip and we want 2 drive. How longs it take? r the brownies expenzive?
Me: May I ask how old you are? You do know Amsterdam is in Europe right?
E: 22. we no. like in canada and u take a train we want to drive n take a ferry. u said in ur blog u took a ferry
Me: No, Europe is across the ocean – you can’t drive there. We did take the ferry from London to Amsterdam – but we flew to London first.
E: wtf? u jus dont want to help me by brownies u judgy b**** ur write sucks. i am writeing bad stuff in ur comments 4 dayz
Note: I moderate all comments so none of hers were posted – mostly due to language and illiteracy. I did not want her comments to offend anyone nor did I want her confusion to confuse anyone else reading the post.
E: ur comments r f****** nun show
Me: I moderate them, you want to be seen? Be nice, ask questions, add to the conversations, control your language
E: u cant do that free speech im reporting u
Me: I own the blog, I can do anything I want.
E: i hate u u suck
Me: Sorry I lied. You can drive there. Drive to New York, go north to Canada. Ask someone where the closest coffee shop is located. Buy some brownies. Enjoy your trip. Let me know how it goes
E: ty ur kewl
End of conversation.
Spring Break 2012 078

Honey’s Basic Recipe Doggy Biscuits

BASIC DOG BISCUITS

Difficulty: Easy

Mess factor: one bowl, one spoon, one pan

INGREDIENTS
In order of appearance

1 over ripe banana
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup oats (any kind)
1½ cups whole wheat flour

 

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 325*
Grease a baking sheet, baking mold, or line sheet with parchment paper/silpat.
Combine banana, egg, applesauce and peanut butter in a large bowl
and mash together.
Add flour and oats and stir to combine.

Dough will be very STICKY!

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METHODS
Roll and cut with cookie cutters, roll pieces into a ball and press flat with a fork, or use a silicone baking mold for individual pieces.

Flour a clean surface and use lots of flour if you are doing the cookie cutter method
If using a silicone baking mold, use cooking spray on mold and spoon or spatula
If baking round pieces, use parchment paper/silpat mat, and spray fork with cooking spray

READY SET BAKE

325* for 30 minutes, or until golden brown, in a  silicone baking mold, on a greased cookie sheet, on parchment paper, or silpat mat
Remove from oven and cool on rack.

 

Keep sealed in an airtight container.

These won’t keep as long as store bought biscuits as there are no preservatives.

I generally put them in the fridge and take them out as needed. I have found they can keep up to a few weeks if kept in an air tight container in the fridge. Honey will eat them at any temperature 🙂

Shelf life of baked treats: 1 week on counter, 3 weeks in fridge, 6 months in freezer

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Who says dog biscuits have to be bone or paw shaped?

Easy Way to Frame a Bathroom Mirror for under $20

Frame Your Bathroom Mirror

Our downstairs guest bathroom was typical builder grade with a sink in the vanity, a toilet, and a tub/shower combo. There was nothing wrong with it, except that it was boring. I am really bad at taking before pictures, and I really need to fix that! I doubt one exists, but if I find one, I will add it to this post later on. This photo is actually of the upstairs bathroom, which looks exactly the same as the downstairs bathroom. Well, it did.

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I wanted to frame the builder grade bathroom mirror and make it look all fancy and like a real mirror like in all the Pinterest posts, but I didn’t want to saw mouldings, deal with mitering corners, cut notches for the little plastic tabs, paint, spend very much time on the task, or spend very much money!

Ha…you laugh !

But – I did it !

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This can be done in one afternoon – honest

Step 1. Measure. I started by measuring the guest bathroom mirror. Twice to make sure. Always measure twice. You must measure the exact mirror you plan to frame. We have 3 of these in our house, and all 3 are different sizes.

Step 2. Moulding. There are many styles of moulding – choose the one that speaks to you. I took the shortcut of having Home Depot cut primer white strips of moulding to the exact lengths I needed. I really wanted to use a fairly wide moulding all around, but the mirror was too close to the corner of the wall on the left side. I compromised and did the thicker moulding on the top and bottom and a little thinner on the sides.

Tip: They charge the same price for the moulding whether you cut it or they do – let them – the pieces fit in the car much better and you have less mess and less stress! It is better to have cuts a tiny bit longer rather than shorter. You can always sandpaper off a bit if need be.

Step 3. Clips and corners. I purchased flat metal mirror clips to replace the bulky plastic tabs that held the mirror in place. I did not have to cut notches for these, they were flat enough that I was able to glue the moulding right over them.

I bought 4 of these corner block rosette pieces in white primer for guess what? Yeah, the corners! I told you no mitered corners 🙂

 

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Step 4. Adhesives.

I used this clear Loctite exterior adhesive, applying it with an application gun. You can choose something else, just remember it has to be clear when it dries.

 

Note: Brown Gorilla Glue is awesome, but it WILL show in the mirror! Let me assure you that this is not a fairy tale – it is true. By the way, nail polisher remover will remove Gorilla Glue and most other colored glue, if you should have a need. We don’t need to go into detail about how or why I know this.

 

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Step 5. Build it. Use the caulking gun directly on the mirror, one edge and one corner at a time, attaching your strips and blocks as you go. Use tape to hold everything in place until it sets. I already had blue painters tape, so I used that to hold the strips of moulding and blocks in place while the glue was setting, but I think most tapes would work.

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Step 6. Admire your work and try take a photo without getting yourself in it.

Framing a bathroom mirror can change the whole look of your bathroom.

I really liked this approach to the alternative of prying the existing mirror off the wall. You would have to deal with possible breakage, spackling holes, and painting. Not to mention the cost of buying a new mirror and the chore of hanging it. If you are willing to paint, your frame can be any color you choose. Since all the materials used are primer white, it should only take one quick coat.

After framing the mirror, I decided to paint the builder grade oak vanity – white to match the mirror. When I was done, it was like having a whole new bathroom. Yeah, yeah – I know I said I didn’t want to paint – and I didn’t do any painting for the mirror. When I go into our fresh, white, updated on the cheap guest bath, the painting of the vanity was worth it 🙂

I liked this so much, that I originally planned to do the upstairs guest bath, but now I am conflicted. I saw a picture of someone using little mosaic tiles around the mirror as the frame and I really liked that idea too.

Easy Window Seat Tutorial

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Window Seat for under $400

How To Directions ~ Easy to make!

We have a 24″ x 90″ bump out in our kitchen aka wasted space. I am a firm believer that builders do crazy nonsense like that because they don’t have to live in the houses they build, and as a result, many of their designs are not thought out very well. Add cheap to the mix, and well, you get a random 24″ x 90″ bump out under a window.

I like to think that this stuff happens just to see how creative the rest of us can get with these spaces. I have always loved window seats, and this area seemed to cry out for one. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, and I wanted to be able to remove said seat if I got tired of it. I also did not want to saw boards, miter corners, build a frame, sew cushions, or build cabinets~ but I wanted it to look like it was built in. Not asking too much – right?

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The Base

I had Home Depot and Ikea do the heavy lifting for me.  I went to Home Depot and purchased a 4′ x 8′ x 3/4″ white melamine board for about $35. I had them cut the board into the sizes I needed. (they do that for free when you buy the board) 4 boards at 23″ x 45″ for the base and 2 boards at 1.5″ x 45″ for the kick plate. I stacked the 4 large boards on top of each other to make the base. Note: if you skip this step, you will probably have trouble opening your cabinet doors! There is a reason cabinets are built slightly off the ground. The good news is that your base pieces (as well as everything else included in this tutorial if you have it cut at the hardware store as suggested) will fit in most normal sized cars, meaning you don’t need a Hummer, or even a truck or SUV for this project 🙂

Melamine Board

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I used my favorite little battery operated black and decker hex drill/screwdriver to put pilot holes into the base and kick plate boards. I attached the kick plate boards to the boards I was using as a base with screws. Note: a post it note does a great job of catching drill shavings.

The Kick Plate

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Voila! You have a simple base!

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The Cabinets

This is where the project got a little pricier than I would have liked, but I was ok with that, as I really had no desire to build cabinets from scratch or to even learn how to build cabinets. I went to Ikea and purchased Akurum over the fridge wall cabinets. I used 3 cabinets that ran $60 each. These are 24″ deep, 30″ long, and 15″ high with harlig white doors. The dimensions were fairly true to size, and they fit my 24″ x 90″ space like a glove. The directions were simple and straight forward. The finished product is very sturdy.

Note: They have other sizes, other style doors, and other colors too. Changing your choice may change the price. You may be able to find similar cabinets at hardware stores that sell ready made cabinets.

Ikea Cabinets Used

The hardest part of this was convincing the salesclerk that I did not need, or need to pay for, the 3 wall hanging brackets (at $10 each) as I had no intention of mounting the cabinets on the wall. She insisted I buy the brackets because I HAD to use them or the warranty would be no good. I finally had to explain to her what I was doing so she would take the brackets off the bill. She actually called over a manager to get approval to sell me wall cabinets without the brackets. Then, while re-ringing me up, she told me that my project would never work because they would have to sit on the floor and wouldn’t open. She smiled and told me she would be happy to help me when I returned the cabinets when they didn’t work out. By then, I didn’t even feel like explaining, I just wanted my cabinets and to get back to my project. I am only sharing this because I don’t want you to spend the extra money either.

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I decided if I was going to have all this extra storage, I was going to make the best use of it. I felt that Ikea’s price for their shelves was higher than I wanted to pay, so I headed back to Home Depot for more melamine, and had them cut some shelves from a finished edge 24″ x 96″ white board. I got 3 shelves at Home Depot for  a little more than the price of one at Ikea. Have them cut .75″ inch off the back of each shelf, making them 23″ deep for a perfect fit.

Board was less than $30, cuts are free. Result 3 shelves.

Cabinet Shelving

Note: Unless they have modified them, Ikea’s shelves do not even fit if you want the back of the cabinet on; they are almost an inch too deep. Probably because they use and cut up the same 24″ melamine board hardware stores sell. The big difference is that Ikea is not set up to fix this problem and Home Depot is.

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The back of the Window Seat

Originally, I was just going to use pillows, but after looking online at some window seat images, I decided the seat needed a stationary padded back. I used two pieces of particle board from Home Depot’s scrap/discard pile which cost me less than a dollar and they cut the pieces to the exact right size (again, for free.) I picked up a beautiful faux silk ombre curtain panel on clearance at Walmart (only one left) for $5 and used it as the covering material. On that trip I also saw a twin sized memory foam mattress topper for $5 which I picked up for the padding. I cut the foam to match the size of the boards, and used a staple gun to attach the material (cut up window curtain) to the boards. I used peel n stick Velcro attached to the seat back and to the wall  to help everything  stay in place.

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The Seat Cushions

I used outdoor loveseat cushions for the seat, also found on that Walmart trip. I reasoned they would be the best choice for a kitchen window seat because they would be durable and should do a decent job of handling any spills. Not to mention that 2 of these were the exact size I needed. I picked these up on clearance and some outdoor throw cushions to match. I got all the cushion material in one trip so that I could make sure the colors would work well together. I used peel n stick Velcro attached to the cushions and the cabinets to help them stay in place.

Starting to look finished

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I picked up more coordinating throw cushions at a Ross

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Fits perfect with with our French cafe kitchen

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Total cost of assembling the cushions: about $150

Note: I originally had the Paris vinyl stickers on the window seat, but I moved them to the upper kitchen cabinets during a kitchen renovation.

The side effect of this project was something I really had not considered until after the fact. I had 3 new HUGE storage cabinets. They hold things that are used only occasionally like large chafing dishes, electric buffets used for the holidays, holiday dishes, an extra large coffee urn, and a slew of other items.

Note: On seating height ~ It is perfect for most tables.

Base  ~ 1 1/2 ”  + Cabinets ~ 15″ + Cushions ~ 3 inches  = 19 1/2 “

Total Cost: $395

Cabinets $180

Cushions $150

Base $35

Shelves $30

This Black and Decker battery operated hex drill/screwdriver is by far, my favorite tool. I love it so much, I purchased a 2nd one as a back up (I have had it more than 5 years) just in case mine dies.

January 2014 Renovation

Home Renovation January 2014

I had a 3 week winter break the end of 2013, leading into 2014. The stars aligned. I had researched, knew what I wanted, made a plan, and Pedro, our contractor, was free during that time to do the work and assured me it would be completed in time for me to rest a few days before school started back. They had all of the above projects completed in less than a week, even taking a Sunday off. I will be using “we” after this, because after all, I did ask Marc what he wanted occasionally and he did pay for it.

We had things to do prior to the renovation beginning. We ordered special items like the faucet and the sink, making sure they would arrive in plenty of time for inspection and a possible reshipment if there was anything wrong. We made a plan for eating, sleeping, etc. Luckily, for us, this part was fairly easy as we had an upstairs to retreat to and we were having no work done up there (yet). Made reservations to spend some time out of town during the majority of the dust everywhere, noisy, hammering, and sawing event.

This is the process we went through, but it will be different for everybody, depending upon the circumstances.

The week prior to renovations

Step 1: Put up shelves in the garage to stack boxes and items that needed to be out of the way. Packed up everything that needed to be out of the way and put labeled boxes on the shelves in the garage. Put everyday items, like the toaster, unpacked on one designated shelf for easy access. And yes, I did go after that toaster more than once. During this time, I was home to accept special and/or freight deliveries of ordered items. Honey loves getting deliveries, probably because she has seen boxes of toys for her, come from Amazon. The delivery of the sink was no exception. I wonder if she will still like it after her 1st bath in it.

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Step 2 : Moved large items, like china cabinets, couches, etc..that we could live without, to the garage. We had two chairs, an end table to share, and the tv as our furniture for a few days.

Step 3: Get out of the way and let the work happen.

Demolition began early on Saturday, January 4. We hung out at my parents house for the day because our original plan was to start demo on the following Monday. But Pedro and his guys had cleared their schedule early, so they began.  By Saturday evening ~ carpets, counters, sink – all gone! Appliances were all moved away from their normal places, to one side of the kitchen. ps. a good contractor should be able to figure out how to keep your fridge plugged in, ours did! We spent Saturday night in the house, with cold cement floors, doing dishes in the bathroom sink, and all the appliances in a corner. We packed and left for Reno Sunday morning.

This renovation covered these areas of concern which were described in the post “Renovations are Tricky.” There are links to the items that were purchased from Amazon on My Favorite Products Page.

1. The kitty carpet.  (We have never had a kitty)

2. The great kitchen divide. (Ugly gold strip)

Taken care of by installation of commercial wood look vinyl plank flooring, purchased from Home Depot, throughout the whole downstairs. Perfect choice for those with pools, pets, kids, and left-handed husbands.

 

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 Flooring 

 

 

3. The island that ate the kitchen. (Aka long skinny cabinet with counter)

The old island was removed, and the electric from the island was routed to an outlet in the floor that would be hidden by a new island. The new island is on wheels and has a drop down butcher block top. I ordered it from Amazon and put it together myself. The beauty of this island is that if I want to move a large table into the kitchen for a party, the island can be moved elsewhere. It has locking wheels, but it is heavy enough that we have yet to lock them.

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4. The ugliest tile EVER. Seriously. We found extra tiles in the garage. Why?

The ugly tile was all demolished and replaced by a man made quartz that looks like granite. It is less expensive, more durable, and it does not have to be sealed! Yay, for low maintenance! It really is hard to tell the difference. Pedro got this from his counter guy, it was leftover from a previous job, so we got a great deal. Slabs can be purchased from Home Depot and the name of the color is Ethan.

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5. Icky sink area.

The sink area was updated by the installation of a new under mount composite granite sink and new faucet. It was installed with no deck plate as I requested and the dishwasher vent was hidden under the sink. I like that there is less “faucet type stuff” on the countertop to clean. Cleaning the countertop is a breeze, just wipe it all into the sink. We purchased both the sink and faucet from Amazon.

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6. Ugliest front door on the street.

Brand new door and hardware. It is staying white, unless a color speaks to me. Door from Home Depot.

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Pretty New Door

Every renovation has to have some unexpected trial or tribulation. Ours was no different and it was, of all things, the backsplash. Ironically, we had given almost no thought to the backsplash and since I really wanted all tile and grout gone – I had asked them just to make a small backsplash with the countertop quartz material. While in Reno, Pedro called us to tell us that after cutting the counters and discarding some unsuitable pieces that they were not going to have enough quartz to do the backsplash. The demo of previous tile had also torn up the walls higher than they had predicted and there just wasn’t enough material. If we didn’t do a substantial backsplash, they would also have to repaint the whole kitchen and adjoining living room. He suggested some black tile or a strip of plain black granite. I shared that I was not crazy about that idea, because I didn’t think it would look great with the white sink. I was also very unsure about adding another type of surface. Marc was very helpful during this part of the process by turning the whole decision over to me and reassuring me that whatever I chose would look great. No pressure there!

Pedro assured me he could find something I’d like. I put my faith in him, after all he was used to building million dollar homes for people much pickier than I. He went to some places he knows to see what kind of scraps they had and started sending pictures of choices. One of the texts he sent was a sheet of striped white and gray marble, with the words “crazy idea.”  It seems that several sheets of this beautiful marble had been ordered for a big job, but one was not accepted because it had several small flaws. The original cost was $1000, but since it was flawed, a solo sheet, and of little use to most contractors, he got it for $100. Since it was being used as a backsplash, there was plenty of material, even with the flaws. Out of all the things he sent, that particular idea kept speaking to me. I have to be honest though, I lost sleep, while Marc snored away, and I shed a few fearful tears over this after I gave him the go-ahead. All for naught. It came out absolutely beautiful. And there was enough left over that we now have a beautiful slab of marble that covers the stovetop. Perfect for rolling out pie crusts and other baking needs.

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Pictures never do it justice and even make it look a little like baseboard, but let me assure you, when you are standing in front of it – there is no question that this is quality polished marble. It is one of the things you just have to reach out and touch and then run your hand along.

Check back, because we are not done. We still have to decide what color the bottom cabinets will be, add a cabinet with a glass front over the dishwasher area, install a drum chandelier, and I want to try to incorporate an awning for our French bistro styled kitchen. Marc is not sure about the awning.

 

If you are considering a renovation, big or small, I’d love to hear from you and see pictures! Good luck to you. Remember to smile, be flexible, (like our new faucet) and try to have fun with it.

 

 

Home Renovations are Tricky

 

Home renovations are tricky.

It can be hard to find the appropriate time for a renovation to even take place. Not only will it be disruptive to your daily life, it can end up costing much more than you budgeted, if you are not careful in the planning stages. It also can be very difficult to find the balance between the materials you would like and the budget you are working with.

The best advice I can give is:

Plan a time that is most convenient in your life – if you are a teacher, the first week of school is probably a bad idea. Our solution was to put the plan in place, be there when it started, get out of town for a bit, be in touch via cell phone at all times, and return at the end of construction.

For the times right before, during, and after your renovation – Make a plan – where will you put items that need to be out of the way of construction? Do you have a space, or do you need to rent a space? Where will you sleep, eat, go potty, etc.?

Do your research on the materials you want so that you know what you are asking for and what to expect. If you know you have a bad habit of spilling spaghetti sauce – don’t go for the white Carrera marble!

Keep your expectations realistic – laminate flooring will never look like hard wood, laminate countertops will never look like granite, and subway tile look wallpaper will never look like subway tile.

Look at design pictures. Look at HGTV, look at Pinterest, look at renovation websites. Decide what you want before you begin – changing orders can get expensive.

Do what makes you happy within reason – keep in mind, you may want to sell this house one day and potential buyers may not want an expensive speckled robin blue designer apron sink. On the flip side, make yourself happy – if you just must have that 2k blue sink and it is in your budget, go for it – just prepared for what may happen down the road. Don’t expect a future buyer to want it or to pay for it. A future buyer may hate that sink, and it may even become a negotiation point costing you the sale, or money for you to change it. I’d still rather face that dilemma than live in a beige house.

Be somewhat flexible – your contractor may come up with a great solution to an unexpected problem or they may come across a great deal if you are open to a new idea. I will tell you more later about a backsplash meltdown that came out better than I could have ever planned.

Choose your contractor very wisely. Enough said.

How I learned this…

Several years ago, we found a dream house in Wheatland, CA. It was a short sale, so purchasing it was not quite as straightforward as most home purchases, but we loved it, so we waited it out. We had made a list and it had everything on the “must haves” and even a few on the “it would be nice” lists. It was several years old, but it was like new. In Wheatland – check. Back from the highway – check. Newer construction – check. Close enough to hear the train whistle, but not be bothered by the train – check. Two stories – check. Double sinks in the master – check. Soaking tub – check. Two or more full bathrooms – check. Extra bedrooms – check. Garage – check. Covered porch – check. Laundry room – check. Pool – check. Open kitchen to a living space – check. Move in ready – check. Only one bedroom and the kitchen even showed signs that anyone had ever lived in the house. It was move in ready – sorta.

But, we had to make a drastic change before we even moved in. They had put in a pool along the side of the house, which made sense because in its location, it got sun all day. What did not make sense was that it was outside the longest wall of a large 2 story house. A wall that contained only one small, narrow window. You could not see the whole pool from anywhere inside the house, and you had to walk out of the back of the house and around the corner to get to the pool. This also meant that the largest room in the house had the least light. I convinced my husband before we bought the house, that there needed to be a door by the pool, or the house made no sense. Who puts in a 40k pool that you can’t see and have to circle the house to get to? The door was in place before we moved in, I think he was afraid I’d take a hammer to the wall so I could see the pool.

Two thousand dollars later, we had a French slider leading to the pool, had a tree that was cracking the cement by the pool removed, and had the downstairs painted. My daughter convinced me, easily I might add, that the bright, bright sunny yellow in the kitchen had to go and that we should throw some paint on the stark white walls. Thanks to Pedro, a family member that is also a contractor in Lodi, this was all accomplished in one day. We started moving in the following day.

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We lived in the house for five years, before we decided to do more work. I had a list of things that annoyed me on a daily basis, and we made a plan to fix those things. Some things I took care of myself, like painting out the ugly light box and turning it into a pot rack, and building a window seat. Many of my DIY projects have, or will have in the near future, blog posts with directions. The ones listed here, were bigger jobs than I had the time, energy, or knowledge to fix, so we had Pedro do it.

1. The kitty carpet. The downstairs carpet that was obviously freshly shampooed when we bought the house, was not so fresh after a few weeks of people traffic. There was a kitty stained path leading from the laundry room to the kitchen. It always looked great for a few weeks after shampooing, but who wants to shampoo their carpet once a month?

2. The great divide. Between the open living space and the kitchen was a gold carpet strip separating the 2 areas, with carpet on one side and linoleum on the other, making sitting at the table a potential amusement park ride, depending upon which chair you chose.

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3. The island that ate the kitchen. For some reason, builders think that all kitchens need an island. Even if it means they put no thought into it, and just get a long bank of cabinets, throw it in the middle of the kitchen, put some cheap counter material on it, hook up some electric and call it a day. The island was 22″ wide and 52″ long and sat right in the middle of the kitchen, making it impossible to place a decent sized table in what should have been a decent sized eat-in kitchen.

4. The ugliest tile EVER. Every kitchen counter and the ridiculous wannabee island was covered in chipped cream colored 4×4″ tiles with large nasty grout lines that always looked dirty, no matter how often it was scrubbed. The tile wasn’t done well, and everything that sat on them, wobbled like it was in an earthquake. I resorted to covering them with gigantic ikea cutting boards to allow for adequate work spaces.

5. Icky sink area. The sink was a  shallow, porcelain, double sink that was chipped showing black spots in several areas. The faucet was the kind you buy on sale at any big box store for $30 that had a separate sprayer that tangled, making it more trouble than it was worth. There was also the ugly vent for the dishwasher. Cleaning nightmare.

6. Ugliest front door on the street. Cheap front door which the previous owners decided to paint crap brown.

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Details of the renovation and materials we chose

Home Renovations January 2014

New Faucet

New Faucet Video

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Love the new faucet. Very heavy duty restaurant-like quality.

Note: The only complaint I have ever seen was that the small spray head you hold is made of plastic. It has to be that way – a metal spray head would burn your hand when spraying the hot water.

Overnight Ferry from London to Amsterdam

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London to Amsterdam on a Floating Hotel

Our trip to Amsterdam began via plane from SFO to London. Yes, we could have flown straight to Amsterdam, but I found a flight to London for half the price, and that’s just how we roll. We arrived in London fairly early as it was a long overnight flight and they are 8 hours ahead of San Francisco. I should mention here  that we also planned a quick trip to Paris, then Germany to see the kids, then back to Paris. We took the Eurostar back to London to spend a couple days before catching our flight back to SFO and we didn’t have time to backtrack through Amsterdam.

Tip on timing: When scheduling and booking, do not forget that you are usually arriving the next day – we have come across many people traveling from the USA to Europe that forgot to take that into account, and have missed their connection, had a hotel booked for the wrong night, missed a tour time, etc.

We booked a rail and sail package (online) from Liverpool Street Station to Amsterdam through the Stena Ferry Line. Check them out, they are awesome, seriously! Out of all the things we have done in Europe, this portion of this particular trip remains one of my husband’s all-time favorites. With the rail and sail package – we could have gotten off at any Dutch train station, we chose Amsterdam.

Rail N Sail Packages

Tip: Booking the overnight ferry, even booking a comfort class outside cabin, was less expensive than booking two airline tickets and a hotel room, and the trip was much more pleasant and less harried.

We took the train from the airport to Liverpool Street Station. Most of the airports in the London area have a train/tube connection that will spirit you to anywhere in the London vicinity, and it will be cheaper, and take less time than a taxi. Every time, honest. We had traveled rather lightly this trip with only carry-ons. 1. We didn’t want to take a chance of missing our train and/or ferry waiting for a missing bag. 2. We didn’t want to deal with TSA over things like toothpaste and disposable razors.  Since we had traveled so lightly, we needed to get a few personal items. Yes, trains stations in Europe are different than ours, they can be a great place to shop, the big ones are well stocked, and are not overly expensive. You can find €1 snacks and drinks, €3 combo meals, inexpensive toiletries,  scarves, batteries, phone chargers, clothing, umbrellas, reading material…you name it.

After filling a reusable, insulated M&S grocery bag with drinks, sandwiches, and a few other goodies, we got on the train towards Harwich. I should point out here that the ferry has several restaurants and a bar, but we were beat from the flight, and just wanted our floating hotel room with the ability to stretch out in a real bed. If you know you want dinner at one of their restaurants, purchasing one before sailing can save you money.

We arrived at Harwich train station a little after 7:00 pm and the embarkation point for the ferry was right there, we didn’t even leave the building. They started loading the ferry at about 8-8:30 and we were in our room by 9 pm.  We booked a comfort class cabin with a window, and we found the extras to be worth it, but if you just want transportation, a bed and a shower, and to save a few bucks, go for a standard.

The ferry was just awesome and to be honest the cabins offered much more than most American cruise line cabins. There was a FREE stocked mini bar all set up for us. There was a coffeepot, coffee packets, tea bags, sugar, mugs, and wine glasses. The fridge contained a variety of ice-cold spirits, Dutch beer, Italian wine, sparkling water, club soda, juice, and an assortment of tiny bottles of liquor. The counter above the fridge was stocked with fruits, nuts, chips, and a few other snacks. The beds had premium bedding, fluffy pillows, and were uber comfy. The bathroom was immaculate, roomy, and well stocked with towels, shampoo, and other incidentals. There was even a tv with several channels that was to be available all night and free wifi.  After showers, we ate our combo meals we brought from the train station. We put our heads to our pillows and barely felt the ship leave the dock.

We didn’t wake until we felt the ship docking in the morning about 6:30 or so. The docking was so smooth that I doubt we would have even been awakened had it not been for the great night’s rest. We took our time getting up, had some muffins we had purchased at the train station, and some fruit from the mini-bar. There seemed to be no rush to get you out quickly, like on an American cruise ship…loved that! As we made our way down the gangplank, and out of the ferry building …the platform was right there. Yay! We had to change trains at Rotterdam and the trip took a little more than an hour.

Tip: You can even book one of those cabins if you take the ferry crossing during the day. The time of a day trip is much shorter, so it is much cheaper. If you want/need a quiet restful place for you to work or little ones to nap, I’d suggest looking into it.

We didn’t have Honey yet, when we took this trip, but they do allow pets on board for a small fee. They must travel in your car, or stay in an on board kennel if you book a cabin.

There is a post about Amsterdam you may want to check out ~  if you haven’t done so already 😉

Stena Line – Celebrating 50 Years


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Don’t Accidentally Buy Pot Brownies in Amsterdam

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Don’t Accidentally Buy Pot Brownies

Amsterdam, Anne Frank Museum, and Keukenhof

Trip Report

Where we stayed

Our apartment in Amsterdam ~  we used airbnb to book it

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Hubby, Marc, checking out the wifi

We paid less for an apartment for 3 nights than a hotel would have cost us for 1 night. Hotels in Amsterdam = EXPENSIVE!

This is a link to the apartment we stayed in, loved it, hostess was awesome!

Our Apartment

I personally love staying in apartments when traveling and I have a post coming about that process soon!

We got to Amsterdam via an overnight ferry from London. Check out rail and sail packages from Stena Line. I have a blog post all about it.

Stena Line

 

Day 1: Welcome to Amsterdam

The train station in Amsterdam was minutes, by foot, from our apartment. We were really glad we had light luggage because it was a walk up (no elevator) and we were on the 3rd floor. (Remember, in Europe, the ground floor is 0, so this really means 4th floor in USA speak.) We checked out our new digs, and settled in for an hour or so, checking out the wifi, the kitchen, etc.  Then we went out to explore the neighborhood. We walked up and down several streets and then it started to drizzle. As we headed back toward the apartment, we decided that I would pick up a few simple groceries for the next few days, and some pastries from the coffee shop, while Marc went to the corner pizza shop and ordered and waited on a pizza for our dinner. I did not get the brownies in the window I had had my eye on. It went something like this.

Me: <smiling> Hello, English?

Young man behind counter: Yeah….English is fine.

Me: <pointing> I’d like a couple of those brownies, please.

Young man behind counter: Sure. What dosage?

Me: Dosage? Like size? They look all look the same?

Young man behind counter: <laughing softly> Ma’am, do you want marijuana brownies?

Me: <blank stare>

Young man behind counter: Uhhhh…These have pot in them, some light, some medium, some heavy – dosage – we have different flavors too

Me: Uhhhh, any normal … just chocolate ones?

Young man behind counter: Try the café across the street. In Amsterdam, coffee shops sell coffee, pot, and items with pot in them.

 Welcome to Amsterdam: We sell pot legally.

I probably should have read this before our trip.

Don’t accidentally buy pot brownies in Amsterdam

We had pizza and leftover muffins for dinner. No brownies.

Day 2: Anne Frank Museum

On the emotional side: Prepare yourself for this. I could barely speak by the time we left. Bring tissue.

On the practical side: Be prepared to walk a lot, stand a lot, and climb stairs. Buy your tickets online and print them out before your trip. The downside to this is that you must book a specific day and time.  The upside: You will save time. We saw people wait more than 2-3 hours (in the rain) to get in. We know this because a lady in a bright red raincoat with ducks on it, was just entering as we were leaving and we had been inside well over 2 hours. Pretty sure she was the only tall redhead in a red raincoat with ducks on it in the vicinity.

Anne Frank Ticket Sales

Since we had purchased our tickets online, we walked past the super long “snaking around several buildings and across several side streets” line, past the main entrance. To the left of that entrance, there was a little window with a locked door beside it, for tours and times, and a little sign stating they didn’t sell tickets there. I was ignored until I held up my tickets. We had gone to the area early to eat lunch, shop, and explore the area, but we didn’t find as much to do in the area as we thought we would. We had a 5:30 pm tour time stamped on our tickets and we were ready before 2 pm. Hmmm, what to do? I explained to the nice lady at the counter that we were early and very jet-lagged as we had just arrived in Amsterdam. I went on to explain that were afraid we were going to fall asleep and miss our time if we went back to our apartment and came back. I asked if it was possible to go early. She smiled and said she needed to check the queue. 3 minutes later, we were buzzed through. I can not promise that this will happen, but if you find yourself in a similar situation, it may be worth a shot. Incredible walk through history. Again, bring tissue.

Day 3: Keukenhof ~ The Happy Place

After the emotional rollercoaster of the Anne Frank house, Keukenhof was the happy place. Flowers, windmills, great little cafes, huge Dutch shoes, and a giant human leapfrog pad, what more could one ask for? Again, we bought tickets online before our trip, so no standing in line once we got there. We probably saved 20-30 minutes or so by having our tickets in hand.

Tickets to See the Tulips

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We spent the time around visiting the Anne Frank Museum and Keukenhof, walking along the canals, visiting windmills, and Dam Square.

DAY 4: Bye, Bye Amsterdam, Hello Paris

We took the TGV train from Amsterdam to Paris. It took about 3 hours.

I probably should have read the book below, before our trip.

Rick Steves’ Amsterdam, Bruges & Brussels


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Don’t Make Me Put My Hand Down There!

Garbage Disposal Dreams

I grew up without a garbage disposal. As an adult, my first homes had no garbage disposals. I really never saw the need, although some people swear by them. To me, it just seemed like an unnecessary convenience, and a waste of electricity. Not to mention ~ they just seemed scary. I mean, fingers are flesh and blood, and I reasoned they’d cut a lot easier than carrots. Resisting all jokes about finger foods.

Then, I rented an apartment that had one. Hmmm. Do I use it, or not? One rainy evening, after dinner, I realized that the trash can was relatively clean, minus a few paper scraps, and if I scraped my leftovers into the can, it would smell like a restaurant dumpster by morning. Since it was pouring out, I decided I’d try the disposal. Fat from the steak and peel from the baked potato be gone! It really was easy. I got accustomed to using it, but I did wreck several spoons that slipped down past the laughable thing they called a disposal guard. My least favorite thing in the world was checking the thing before I turned it on. I held my breath every time, as I swished my hand down into the scary hole, until I was sure the thing was empty. I did my best to remember to put any small items and utensils in the side of the sink that didn’t house the disposal. I referred to the right side of the sink as the “safe side.”

When I started dating my husband, he lived in an old house, in the sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. It had been left to him by his parents. It had pink tile and a pink pedestal sink in the bathroom, but the parquet wood floors to die for, made up for that pink tile. In the kitchen, there was one of those big farmhouse sinks. Not the kind like you see today, rather an old cast iron sink in which you could bathe a baby, or two. And there was a garbage disposal with a hole big enough to fit a softball through. There was no “safe side” to deposit the utensils and other small items. I avoided using the thing because every time I tried, I’d wake up with a horrible nightmare. Yes, I know that the design is such that the accidentally chopping off of fingers is unlikely. Didn’t matter.

After we got married, we bought a house as married people are inclined to do. And you guessed it ~ the house had a garbage disposal. Out of fear, I decided I just wouldn’t use it. I did my best to keep small items and utensils away from it. For the past several years, I would sometimes forget and drop utensils and other items down the black hole. When that happened, it would be months before it happened again. Except when we had guests. It happened most often when we had guests. Even though I’d asked guests to leave their items on the sink, obviously they had great mothers that made them clean up, which included rinsing their plates, and dropping their utensils down the disposal hole. Didn’t really matter how, when, or why it happened ~ I didn’t even have to turn the thing on to be scared. Retrieving items from the hole of doom was enough to cause hyperventilation.

Recently, we decided to put in a new sink and new countertops. Our contractor suggested we replace the garbage disposal as it was an older, cheap, builder grade model that would take some retrofitting. Since we had replaced every other appliance in the kitchen, thus far, this just made sense. While researching faucets, sinks, and garbage disposals, I came across the very thing that would make my nightmares go away. It is called a disposal genie. I didn’t even have to find and rub an old lamp to get one. It allows me to use the disposal without fear. It does not allow utensils to pass through the hole, but it allows water to pass. It stays in place until I decide to remove it. If I choose to use the disposal, I check the sink for utensils and small items and remove them. Then, I scrape whatever needs to go down the drain, down the drain. It gave me my three wishes without me even asking. No more sticking my hand down the black hole. No more hyperventilating over it. No more nightmares over it. Where has this thing been all my life?

Danco 10051 Disposal Genie, Black


New From: $5.00 USD In Stock

Honey and Her Squirrels

 

image Best Pet Toy Ever

Honey trying to free all her squirrel babies

imageShe is playing with the ginormous version

Best Christmas present and Favorite toy ever!

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Once she frees them all,  she guards them for a bit

The ginormous toy has 6 squeaking squirrels

Mod Podge Magic

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Lamp Shades to Match your décor

I really needed some Paris script square lampshades for some square lamps –  ok, need is a bit strong – maybe really really really really really wanted. Can you believe no one sells them? So, I made my own!

I took a picture of my Paris script stools.  I fit the print to regular sized computer paper and printed one page for each side. Add Mod Podge and Voila! I planned to add black lace around the edges, but I think I have decided that I like the raw/rough look better

More detailed directions for using Mod Podge are under the post: Lazy Susan

All of these projects used the same kind of Mod Podge, brushed on with a foam brush, and regular computer paper.

The projects below used old pictures (from like the 80s) that no longer matched our décor. I added some family pics that were printed off the computer and some old leftover curtain rod hooks.

Voila!

New key rack for the door by the garage and except for a lil mod podge, some paper, and some ink ~ it was free. I love free 🙂 Same idea for the No Soliciting sign..

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Lazy Susan

I had a lazy Susan that was given to me years ago by my daughter.

It was from when my kitchen decor was beechwood.

Problem: I couldn’t bring myself to part with it. My kitchen is now stainless and black with a French Country/Paris Theme – water-ringed, stained beechwood just didn’t match.

I took a picture of one of my Paris postscript stools, and printed out several pages on regular computer paper.

Enter Mod Podge glossy glue.

I put down a coat of Mod Podge Glue using a foam brush, overlapped the pages on to the lazy Susan and put Mod Podge over the paper, using an old credit card to smooth out the bubbles.

Once dry, I flipped the lazy Susan over and used an exacto knife to cut off excess paper around the edges.

After it dried, I put another coat on as I wanted it be really durable for kitchen use.

Ugly Light Project and “NEW” Kitchen Cabinets For the Frugal at Heart

 

 Ugly Builder Grade Light and Cabinets

About the light: Hated it, hubby hated it, everybody hated it

kitchen light before

But, kitchen renovations get messy and expensive, and don’t always go as planned.

I didn’t want holes in the ceiling or the mess or the cost!

Simple solution: make it fade away with paint and it worked. If the pots were not hanging there, you wouldn’t even notice it. And like they say on HGTV – paint is cheap!

If you decide to take it down you will be painting anyway, so nothing to lose except a little time and energy.

I used white latex trim paint because it is what I had in the garage, and no I didn’t prime or sand anything and a year later – it’s all good!

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 My original plan was to hide it in plain sight with paint and forget it existed.  Once it was no longer the eyesore it was, a crazy idea popped into my head. What if I hung a pot rack from it? Wait….what if it could BE the pot rack – I mean it is already secured into the ceiling.  So, I added some large white hooks, and began to hang my pots on it. Bonus: Freed up a whole cabinet!

HUGE POT RACK

kitchen light after

Once I made it this far, the ugly builder grade cabinets became the eyesore.

So, I painted them to match shortly after.

Then I found some crystal look knobs for a great price. They really sparkle. Added some easy stick – easy to remove vinyl decals

(for when I change my mind)

and

VOILA!

Builder grade kitchen look be gone!

Looks like a brand new kitchen with a Paris themed French Country Twist

You can buy the paint, hooks, knobs and decals for the cost of one pendant light

Best Parts: low cost and no demo

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Get the BLING below!

Bling

Impatient Honey in Her Doggy Car Seat

Doggy Car Seat

Impatient Honey

She might be just a little spoiled.

She loves her car seat because she can see outside, and on long trips, she has a comfy bed to sleep in.

I love her car seat because it keeps her in one place. Not on my lap. Not under my feet. Not trying to hang out the window. Not bouncing around the car. Not scratching up my leather seats. The car seat is held in place by the existing seatbelt. The booster strap hooks to the lap portion of the seatbelt and her harness for added safety.

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We tried 4 different car seats, we liked this one best.

Snoozer Lookout I Pet Car Seat, Small, Black


New From: $69.95 USD In Stock

Don’t Let My Food Touch!

Divided Plates Rock

Some people, like my mom, love to mix up every food item on their plate.

Other people, like my sister and I, hate when that happens.

I used to buy those sectional styrofoam paper plates for the holidays and use them year round, but that wasn’t very “green” and it got rather pricey for daily use. Plus, who wants to eat breakfast, steak, or pasta on a styrofoam plate?

Then, I found these!

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It is Corelle, made in the USA, by Corning.

They come in 2 sizes, 8 and 10 inches.

The 8 inch size really is a child sized plate.

The 10 inch size is about the size of a regular dinner plate.

Great for kids, picky eaters, and portion control.

Livingware 10.25″ Divided Dish [Set of 6]


New From: $37.01 USD In Stock

A Teacher’s Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I haven’t written in a while because to be honest, I haven’t really needed or wanted anything. This year, I have a special request and I know it is a tall order. I would like you to pick up every politician in America on Christmas Eve at midnight, awake or not, sober or not. I would like you to escort them immediately to the North Pole and make them take the 6th grade Common Core Math and Language Arts tests – cold. I mean that’s fair, right? It is only a test for 6th graders, right? Then, I want the scores to be posted publicly, everywhere. To avoid embarrassment, anyone not passing with at least a 70%, whether there are flaws in the test or the answer key or not, could avoid having their scores posted, but they would have to agree never to enter politics again and to give up their current position to a teacher or a random person making a living at the poverty level.

Then, I want you to pick up every person that works in the business of making big money on high stakes testing of young students and force them to teach for one year in an inner city or poverty stricken school. I want them to do it on the same budget, within the same constraints, and with the same resources teachers currently have. Their students must pass teacher made tests, that will be similar to the tests that they themselves have written, or they lose their jobs, forever, and must all go work for minimum wage as Wal-Mart greeters until retirement. Not that there is anything wrong with being a Wal-Mart greeter mind you, I just want them to see and feel how many real people live.

I know this is a big order, but it isn’t for me. You see, I am just so tired of seeing my colleagues and students that are working as hard as they can – being constantly and consistently judged by uneven scales and consistently set up for failure.

Thank you,
June