Thursday, February 26, 2009

"I'm With the Acme Window Co., and I Just HAPPENED to be in the Neighborhood..."

"... but I'm not selling anything. Are you the homeowner?"


"Well, we're talking with homeowners of houses with older windows
(looks at my decrepit and paint peeling windows) about our upcoming special on...."

"No thanks. I'm restoring them this summer."

"Oh. Ok then."

That was easy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lilac Mayhem and Rejuvenation

Our tiny old house came with a HUGE OVERGROWN LILAC BUSH. Two beloved pet ratties and a young robin are buried under this bush.


It has seven or eight thick old trunks that have been chopped off about 3 to 4 feet up, giving it the appearance of a bundle of wood. I have only seen one flower on it in the four springs we have been here. After much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth (and research), I decided to "start over" with the lilac. This time of year is perfect for lilac rejuvenation:


Here is the lilac bush now (with a visitor who loves the camera and wouldn't stay away). I removed ALL of the thick, old stems with a sharp pruning saw. This is NOT recommended if you would like lilac blooms anytime in the next three years, as it takes three years for a stem to produce flowers. If your lilac is in better health/structure than mine, I would recommend taking off 1/3 of the branches each year right after blooming instead of this drastic haircut.

Hopefully, my lilac bush will become a contributing member of our backyard garden now. Lilacs can be beautiful bushes!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Teeny, Tiny, Itty, Bitty Baby Shoes!

It doesn't have ANYTHING to do with home improvement, but it does fit in with the Tiny Old House. I just finished these baby shoes for a coworker's upcoming baby girl:


Aren't they cute? I used a bit of felted wool sweater and an old silk shirt for the fabric, and hand-stitched it all together with itty bitty stitches. Recycling old into new, and saving money all at once!

In the interest of saving even more trees, I used the Japanese art of furoshiki to wrap the gifts in a fun silk scarf that I found at the thrift store:


What sort of homemade gifts have you given? Have you considered non-traditional wrapping?

Monday, February 16, 2009

YakTrax Would Have Saved My Behind... If I'd Kept Wearing Them!

A few weeks ago, I received a small package in the mail; a brand new pair of YakTrax walkers to review for the blog. (YakTrax had sent me a pair.) I had been waiting for them to arrive, as I take lots of night dog walks regardless of snow or ice. Sadly (or gladly, depending), we've had unseasonably warm weather this winter, with very few snowstorms and even less below zero snaps.

Well, the day arrived.


I woke up to a winter wonderland of wet sticky snow that had melted and refrozen. I pulled the YakTrax out of the box, and was rather disappointed to see how flimsy they appeared. The construction is a thin rubber outsole in a spiderweb formation, and is wrapped in a steel wire corkscrew. Honestly, I wasn't sure it would work at all.


I pulled them over my hiking boots to give them a go, though... and was pleasantly surprised to find out that they were so easy to take on and off that I could remove them on my walk if needed even with my gloves on. (You aren't supposed to wear them on cement). They fit snugly, didn't seem to move out of place, and the thin rubber didn't seem flimsy at all when it was on my boot.

I took a step outside with a 60 lb dog who LOVES the snow and gets so excited when he sees it that he temporarilly forgets that I am attached to the other end of the leash... and didn't fall. Or slip. At all. The walk went beautifully... no slipping or sliding. In fact, it went SO well that I assumed that it wasn't actually that slippery out, and decided NOT to wear them on my way out to the car to go to work. Big mistake! I was still wearing the same hiking boots, but when I stepped around the back of my car I fell right down... in the very place that I had confidently walked without slipping 10 minutes earlier. OUCH!


I took a look at the YakTrax after taking them off my boots to inspect the metal screws... they weren't bent at all. It seems they will hold up well; I'll add to this review after a season of wearing with an update of their long term use and wear.

They aren't very expensive... I've seen them on sale for $15, but for those who need to save even more money family member has created her OWN version of ice walking shoes with 1/4" hex screws screwed into the bottom of old running shoes. She says they work well; and this would be a good alternative to save a little money and keep something like an old pair of shoes out of the landfill. I've been meaning to make my own pair, but didn't have an old pair of shoes to sacrifice. The YakTrax do have the advantage of being small, easily used and removed, and able to be kept in a pocket or purse until needed; a pair of old running shoes just doesn't fit in my purse! My husband wants a pair now; perhaps there will be an end-of-season sale on them!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Look at ALL this Caulk!


Looks pretty bad, doesn't it! It's just oozing out. Lucky for us, it is supposed to look like this. The caulk is temporary, removable caulk, made to last one season, and just perfect for our needs this year. It is sealing up the holes between the old storm windows and the new window trim; this summer, we will pull off the storm windows and permanently weatherproof the windows and storms. Until then, this caulk is giving us quite a bit of savings... the house felt MUCH warmer after we installed it. Amazing what sealing off a few drafts will do!

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Great Shave

We have dogs. Fluffy dogs. Curly dogs. Dogs whose hair grows constantly. They need groomed every couple months to keep it in check, but at $60 a grooming (after tip) it was getting to be expensive... and all I ever wanted was a basic puppy cut!

Then, I found an Andis 2 Speed Clipper at a garage sale for $1. After a few months of getting up the courage, I clipped my first dog. I'm no grooming pro, but I'm very happy with my savings!

Here's the before:

After a nice bath...
... and a quick zoom around the house....

... Molly is ready for a clip:

I use a car washing attachment to wash them on advice from a groomer; fill it up with shampoo, put it on it's gentlest setting (shower), and spray the dog down. The dogs like it better, too.

It takes about an hour to clip my dog down.... I use a 5FC blade to get a length of about 1/4 inch all over. It's short, but it takes a few months to grow back out!

Here's the after:
Just TRY to say "no" to those eyes!

I've used the same blade ($30) for 6 haircuts now, so the savings are quite substantial!

Quick Rundown of Supplies:
(For anyone interested)
  • Andis 2 Speed Professional Clipper
  • 5FC Ceramic Blade
  • Oster Coolant/Lubricant/Cleaner Spray
  • Sharp Scissors
  • Mild Dog Shampoo
  • Car Washing Nozzle with Soap Container
  • Hose
  • Sink to Hose Converter
Total Cost to Me: ~$60
Total Savings: $60 on each haircut!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sorry About the Lack of Posts....

I've been fighting off several nasty colds over the past month AND starting a brand new additional job all at once. I'm ready for my nose to stop dripping and my head to unstuff! Oh, and the horrible cough to go away.

But... I do have a few posts planned out and started. I have a brand new winter weather item to try out... if we ever get snow and ice in Colorado again. I'm thinking they will be really useful for icy dog walks AND for such things as working on a roof. Also, in my saving money and doing things yourself series, I've taken pictures of one of the funnier to look at savings. Oh, and all those New Year's Resolutions. It's February, right? Time to get started!