Archive for Make a mark

One woman’s trash

Wall heaterA major victory was accomplished last week.

The old Peerless wall heater that has been haunting my basement is out the door and on to a new life.

This heater ran on natural gas. I had it disconnected by professionals about a year ago.

Finally, my partner-in-crime and I wrenched it from its wall, used a Shop Vac to blow out years of dust, dog fur and dreadfulness, hauled it up to the garage, and listed it on Bis-Man online.

I didn’t know if it worked. I asked $25. And I sold it in a couple of days.

The man who wanted it was hot-to-trot. I could tell he was worried somebody else would get to it before him. He planned to use it in his garage. I really hope it worked for him.

Wall heater

Wall heater in the basement bedroom where the kitties live.

The biggest reason I was so ready to finally get rid of it was because the kitties had learned how to escape their room through the hole below it.

I awoke one morning a couple months ago to a very scared and mournful screaming. Sweet Pea had gotten out and apparently couldn’t remember how to get back into the room with Basil. So, I reinforced the cardboard that had been keeping them in, and went about my life.

A couple weeks ago, two days before their surgeries, I went downstairs to check on them. Normally when I open the door to their room, they both come bursting out ready for food and pets.

This time, only Basil was there. I looked in the room, fearful that Sweet Pea had found the wire underneath the heater and had chewed her way to an electrocution.

No Sweet Pea.

I went into the laundry room, which was the room to which the hole would lead. The door was closed, which meant if Sweet Pea was in there, there was nowhere for her to go. My laundry, etc., was scattered everywhere. No Sweet Pea.

I looked to the ceiling. I had been hearing weird sounds in the furnace ducts. Did she somehow find her way there? No way.

I went out of the laundry room and back to their room. On the way, I found Sweet Pea.

I reinforced the cardboard, and went to the laundry room to see how long it would take her to escape once again.

Less than two minutes.

Wall heater

You can see the rug.

So I shoved an old rug in the hole and hoped for the best.

That worked, but I knew it wouldn’t work forever.

Now, the heater is gone, the entire hole is filled with impenetrable sheet rock, and the room is secured.


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Tribute to a neighbor

Yesterday, you saw a wave of snow on my neighbor-to-the-north’s home: snOMG.

She is no longer living there. The home is vacant.

Pam was a great neighbor, not only in that she was quiet, clean and kept to herself. She took great care of her yard.

Her backyard was a haven for honey bees and bumblebees. Her flowers brought all the bees to the yard.

She had inherited her home from her mother, who set up the beautiful landscaping. Pam was quick to point out that she was just taking care of what her mother had started.

She had tiered layers of gorgeous perennials. She had a wonderful flowering tree, in which I saw my first — and only, so far — blue bird. She had so many knick-knacks and gnomes and doo-dads, I think she moved them around her yard every day.

One day a couple months ago, as she and her daughter were selling Girl Scout cookies, my neighbor-across-the-street asked if I had seen Pam lately. I hadn’t. I had been on a week-long trip, and since home, had been sick. She pointed out that Pam’s car had been sitting in the driveway for a few days.

The next night, we found out Pam had died, when Pam’s friends stopped by to check on her and called the police.

Her family started visiting the house a couple days later, and for many weekends after that, to clean things out and get the house ready for sale.

Just this last week, the listing went up. And though I was only home for a few hours, I saw at least five groups of people come to check it out. One of them, I know, which is pretty cool. As long as everything goes through, they will be my new neighbors.

My only wish was that the new owner would take care of Pam’s flowers, and I believe my new neighbors will. Pam and her mother left a legacy that will live with this house for years to come.

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As in the time of Franklin

Tomorrow something monumental will happen in my home.

I will have, before noon, a reasonable electrical outlet in my bathroom. To me, it’s almost like the discovery of electricity itself.

Since 1964, the occupants of this residence have resorted to extreme measures to use a blow dryer, curling iron or radio.


The only outlet, in the light fixture above the mirror.


The cord, strewn across the mirror.


The sad outlet, hanging near the grotesque bathroom floor.

This is something that should’ve happened before I even moved in. It was listed in the conditions under which I would buy my home. But somehow, it was too difficult to get this done.

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Clean up and abandonment



This is a story that began one-and-a-half years ago. I chose today’s topic because of what I’m wearing.

You may remember The Rent is Too Damn High party. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you understand why I identified with name of the party, if not its champion, Jimmy McMillan’s, ideology.

One of my favorite websites,, offered a T-shirt that was made for me. I bought it in the midst of my house hunt, and swore to wear it on the day I left my apartment for good.

I wore the T-shirt on the day I finally turned over the keys on an apartment I had lived in for eight years.

You may note I’m wearing a winter coat in that photo. It was New Year’s Eve 2010. I took that photo inside my new house, already anticipating this particular blog post.

temp and time

It was a cold and snowy winter.

new blinds

I even replaced the blinds in my bedroom with new ones from Walmart. They cost less than $10. The originals were extremely dusty.

I spent quite a bit of time cleaning my apartment. I was so worried they wouldn’t give me my full deposit because something was dirty.

I had felt so taken advantage of by Goldmark that I didn’t want to give them any reason to keep any of my money. I cleaned every square inch, including the walls.

I hired my own carpet cleaner because they were going to take $100 out of my deposit to hire one for me. I vowed to find a carpet cleaner for cheaper than that.

Remember the note I posted in this post?

On the Spot Carpet Cleaning actually cleaned my carpets for less than they had quoted because my carpets were so clean to begin with. I believe I paid $60. Read the rest of this entry »

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Keeping plans fluid in the kitchen

My grand plan for my kitchen has always involved new flooring and probably new appliances. But an avalanche of renewal took over my kitchen, and I ended up also painting the cabinets. In all that, the vision for my kitchen evolved dramatically.

At first, I thought I would keep my cabinets as they were, put in some nice dark hardwood flooring, and get stainless steel appliances.

That didn’t happen because…
First, the color of paint on my cabinets would not match to any flooring in the world that was in my price range. Second, stainless steel appliances are much more expensive than plain white or black.

So, after many hours on Pinterest (see my For The Home board), I realized I must paint my cabinets white in order to find flooring to match. Hear me now, I will never do that again unless under duress.

Even once the cabinets were white, I had a heckuva time finding flooring. I settled on some laminate that I thought was way too boring. Now that I have it, though, I’m in love. You will see it in a future post.

I also love my white appliances. Thanks to a very savvy saleslady in Sears, I got a great deal, and found a fridge that is quite modern and smaller and more narrow (exactly what I wanted!!).


The night my partner in crime brought my appliances to me. They had to hang out in my garage until the new floor was in.

I put my old fridge on It’s a local eBay that is very popular. I kid you not, in the first day or two of the ad being online, I had 20 people wanting to buy it.

So the fridge was moved from place to place until its buyers picked it up the night after a murder in town. I remember that very well, because at the time nobody knew who committed the murder. I did not want the refrigerator buyers into my house without my boyfriend there. So, there was a long awkward conversation held outside until I had back-up.


Chaos in the kitchen.


I got 100 dollars for that behemoth of a fridge. Had I known the interest it would bring, I would’ve asked 150.

And so, once the old fridge was in the living room, and the old stove was in the garage (it would soon go to my brother’s family, keeping it in the family), the flooring project could begin. First, let’s take a quick look at the old range hood before that’s gone too.


Old range hood, just hanging out.

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Curb appeal in progress

As I was looking through the folders of pictures on my desktop, the pictures of the front of my house struck me.

First off, my house looks a lot different from what it used to. Here, in the spring after I moved in.

Front of house - May 2011

Here is my house in May 2011. I took this picture to plug into a website that would help me find a new color scheme.

One of the first things I needed to do in the spring was get the peeling paint scraped and repainted. That’s required with a first time homebuyer’s loan. Well, technically, the previous owners needed to get it done before an inspection at the end of May, but I worked out a deal with them so they paid me for supplies, and I did the work. Since the inspector wouldn’t care whether the work was done well, I knew the previous owners didn’t need to care, either.

The siding on my house is vinyl. This is not ideal because vinyl doesn’t hold up well to anything. Its only saving grace is that you don’t have to paint it. But, I did need to paint the trim around all my windows, and the back deck. Since I was going to be going to the work anyway, I thought a new color scheme would be fun. I plugged the above picture into a Sherwin-Williams web app, and went to town, playing around with different ideas.

I decided the bricks (which are really fake vinyl bricks installed over real bricks) and concrete would be a dark gray, and the trim a rich blue.

Front of house - October 2011

This is my house in October 2011. Still not finished.

You’ll note there is slight improvement, but it’s not quite there yet. After hours and hours of labor, it wasn’t quite right. A neighbor told me, “I see what you’re trying to do.” But everyone agreed it wasn’t quite there yet.

That’s when I decided to gather some estimates for new windows. Three potential candidates dropped by to give me their estimates. But one also gave me advice on what to do to make the front of my house look “done.”

At this late hour, I do not have a photo to show you what he suggested. I’m sorry. But I will post a picture soon.

For now, note the photo below.

Front of house - October 2011

Not quite there in terms of looking quite right. But see how the world's ugliest carpet has been removed from the front steps? Oh yes, there are better things to come.

Can you believe these photos were taken in October in North Dakota? Note the living flowers, the garden hose still hooked up to the house, and the Halloween decorations. Very odd and very welcome.

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Treating your windows with respect

Here is one of those instances in which I’m very angry I did not take more pictures when I first moved in. Everything was changing so quickly, there was little time to stop and snap a photo. Also, my camera was packed away in a box somewhere in my crazy cluttered office.

Trust me when I tell you the window treatments here were horrid. They were all white (or, more accurately, yellowed) hanging vertical blinds. In every room.

So, in pure excitement, I ripped down the ones in my living room almost immediately, as I was prepping to paint. They went straight to the garbage.

Then, I had to rely on my boyfriend’s parent’s old drapery, pinned to the wall, to get me by. When I think about it, it seems like I lived like this for a very long time, but it couldn’t have been more than a month.

When I started on my search for new living room window treatments, I first thought I would have long dramatic drapes, that pooled on the floor like in the home decor mags. But a trip to TJ Maxx (including a purchase and return) showed me this would not be practical. Besides that one of my furnace vents was right in the path of where the luxurious drapery would fall.

Eventually, I headed to JCPenney with coupons in hand. When I learned that buying new window treatments would cost nearly $1,000, even at 65 percent off, I was dumbfounded. Never in my imagination did I think this could be so expensive.

For whatever reason, I decided to try my luck at Lowes. I had already decided there’s no way anything would be cheap enough for me, especially considering my poor luck at the discount kingdom of Penney’s.

Low and behold, with only a 15 percent off sale, I was able to get gorgeous custom shades for less than half the price I was looking at from Penneys!

These blinds went up on Superbowl Sunday 2011. Aren’t they dreamy?

Living room blinds

I just love having the sunlight shine through these. I gaze at them lovingly quite often.

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