Nice to see you!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's the Blue Light Special of free stuff!

Sometimes, life is good. Sometimes, the planets align, the forces that be smile down on you, and it rains free stuff. And not crappy free stuff, but stuff you can actually use.

My previous post lauded the abundance of goods and services I have received to redo my bedroom and bathroom, so I won't go into that again. But it would appear that the Botany Gods are giving me a karmic thumbs up, because I have been blessed with greenery.

I had a girlfriend who was moving and saw this as the perfect opportunity to get rid of her boyfriends plants (and who among us hasn't wanted to do that?). So I inherited 5 HUGE hanging spiders and ivy's. Really greened up the place, made it all bright and airy. Not to mention the surplus of oxygen they are providing. She also saw the chance to upgrade her patio collection, and now I have several darling urn planters for MY back patio, which currently houses a table, tangled hoses, a collection of stuffed animals with the insides in various stages of being pulled out and a chiminea that acts as a summer home for very angry wasps. Needless to say, my patio could use a face lift.

Then my boss was, once again, kind enough to offer to let me come and take her runaway strawberries and raspberries. Now, this is akin to offering to allow little children to pick your dandelions for their mother. Solves your problem and the children do all the work. Same basic concept. I go over there and "choose" my plants from all the ones that have decided to grow where she doesn't want them. But I currently have 2 mature strawberry beds, a rhubarb bed, a chive pot, and a good sized raspberry bed that are full on producing, and all I had to do was go over and dig them up. They come back every year, they produce better every year, and they cost me NOTHING! Really, this year I'm just filling in the strawberries and maybe extending the raspberry bed. How do you refuse raspberries? And they're thornless, to boot. Maybe I should start another bed. On top of that, her patch is so big, that when they're ripe, I also get to go over and pick them! Delicious!

Finally, this is less a gift than an accomplishment, but it needed to happen. My back flower bed (read - weed patch) has been de-weeded, weed guarded, and I will be planting it for the LAST time next weekend, with a selection of perennials chosen with the intent of me never having to do anything to that bed again. It runs for 50 feet along my back fence and is filled with completely useless plants. They contribute nothing, save for being visually attractive for a couple of months, giving the bees something to do during the day, and providing cover for wasps to make their homes. But, I had a 50.00 card to Lowes, and so I chose a few remaining plants to fill in the blank spots and now the bed will be spring/summer/fall blooming with little maintenance from me. It's full of Russian Sage, Purple Salvia, burgundy wild roses, Shasta daisies, and mums. Done. I hate working in that flower bed. Love flowers, hate weeding.

I need a sign.

Frugal, Schmrugal

Yay me! I have managed to remodel two rooms in my house for less than 150.00! I'm trying to really stretch it, and I may have enough supplies to do one more room. Crossing my fingers. Here's my success story.

Master bedroom has been without a floor for....oh, about 3 years. I tore the carpet out 3 years ago, and have been living with subflooring ever since. I would occasionally repaint it in white when it got too grungy to mop. I was going for shabby chic, but realistically, we're talking painted plywood. Anyway, 3 years of patience (read laziness, cheapness, and procrastination) finally paid off thanks to an unfortunate incident involving a leaky refridgerator hose and a locking mechanism change by a flooring manufacturer. Not that I would wish ill on anyone, especially to my own benefit, but my boyfriends sister lost a small portion of her wood floor thanks to the aforementioned refridgerator leak, and because of the change in the flooring design, they were unable to get a match for their floors. The beauty of this being that their flooring covered approx 600 square feet, from the front entry hall, to the office, kitchen, dining room and bathroom. She was kind enough to ask the insurance company if they could recycle the flooring AND the floating floor underneath, and suddenly, I have a new bedroom floor. By the way, she did end up with BEAUTIFUL new flooring, so it all worked out.

Cost of flooring - 0.00

Problem. Flooring is darker than I would have chosen and won't go with the current decor. Solution - paint it. (the walls, not the flooring) Thanks to gift card programs, I was able to purchase 4 gallons of custom colored paint without using any money from my budget.

Cost of Paint, brushes, and tape - 0.00

Tools - Okay. I could have saved some money here by being organized, but because I am not, and because I did not have until the end of never to go through my garage, I had to replace some things I know I have.

Cost of mallet, pry bar, drywall putty and knife - about 20.00

Crap. Who's going to install the floor? Me? Okaaaay... I was going to give it a whack, but I got suckered into taking in a little baby pug dog, and as luck would have it, the owner lays flooring for a living. He was so grateful that his puppy wouldn't go to the pound that,

Cost of flooring installation - 0.00

I love barter. Realistically, I'm going to spend more money caring for this dog over the course of his life than he would have charged for installation, but I'm going to overlook that as a "vague and variable" expense. Besides, love and gratitude count for something right? Think how much I'll save in therapy by having the love of a sweet, cuddly pug. I'm calling it even.

The main expense. The dresser. This is where my complete lack of patience came up to bite me in the arse. I have been looking for a dresser for a couple months. Yard sales, thrift stores, Craigslist. Have not found what I'm looking for, and if it was the right size, it was too damaged or too much money for what it was. Then one day I walked into the most evil shop ever (coincidentally, it happens to be my favorite store, too. The two are not mutually exclusive) and there was my dresser. Right height and width, 4 drawers, already made shabby chic with cream and chocolate brown - two of the new colors in my room. Perfect! AND, it's on casters, which means it will roll if I need to move it. For whatever reason, the people who refinished it put bright brass closet knobs on a shabby chic dresser (how much you want to bet it was a man?) So I am replacing the hardware with distressed wrought iron fleur d lis knobs. Yes, they are 3.00 each, BUT I have a gift card to the store to use to buy them.

Cost of dresser - a very painful 93.00
Cost of hardware - technically 0.00

Thanks to the paint I bought and additional gift cards, I was able to refinish 1 dresser, 1 trunk, 1 bathroom hutch, 1 bathroom cabinet (bought at a yard sale for 2.00) and a picture frame. Also I was able to refinish 4 sconces I found in my garage from a yard sale like 4 years ago (I knew I would use them!) and I purchased fleur d lis knobs for my closet doors to match the dressers. I used the paint from the bedroom to repaint the bathroom.

Cost to refinish the bathroom (get this) - 2.00

Am I proud of myself? You bet your sweet bippy. And I will be absolutely ecstatic if it turns out I have enough flooring left to do the office floor. I know I'll have enough paint.

Total remodel - 115.00

Who says procrastination doesn't pay off?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I have too much on my plate!

Ever want to crawl into your closet, close the door, and hope no one ever finds you? That's what happens when you decide you're going to do everything, be everything, and fix everything all at once. Let me tell you, not going to happen.

Right now my bedroom furniture is piled in the center of the room while the paint on the walls dries. Half of my dresser is painted, half of a bedroom cabinet is painted and distressed. One garden bed is weeded. I can't see my strawberries under the dandelions. My peas are coming up, the onions have disappeared - I know I planted them. Of my 64 square foot boxes, 5 are planted with broccoli. The rest are apparently planted with weeds, which love the fresh soil I put in a couple weeks ago. I guess it's pretty good soil. I have a pile of wood flooring in my garage, which I'm supposed to install Memorial Day weekend. Guess what? That's the same weekend the garden is supposed to go in. AND I DON'T EVEN HAVE THE BEDS READY!

Kill me now.

Have I watered the yard yet this year? Nope. Not yet. It's been mowed 3 times - not by me, of course. But not watered, because that is my responsibility and it seems like too much work to go out there and turn the faucet on. And then there's the moving of the hoses, and the adjusting of the water flow...sigh. Have I harvested the asparagus I was so excited about? mean the asparagus TREES? That's what happens when you don't pick them early. So much for asparagus this year. Good thing it's on sale for .99 a lb. Of course, then I have to blanch them and vacuum seal them. More work.

When was the last time I cooked dinner? I honestly do not remember. My poor boyfriend is living on chips and fruit. I occasionally bring him a container of soup from the cafeteria at work. Otherwise, he's on his own. His clothes are clean, though. Laundry gets done. Priorities. It's okay if he starves to death, as long as his clothes are clean.

How does the saying go? "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get". Maybe I should make a sign for the kitchen.... I'll add it to the list.

Monday, May 3, 2010

How to medicate a Pug...or not

My pug has an ear infection. I was told it's just mild, no biggie, wash his ears out and stick some ointment in them. No problem. All better. My vet has a full staff of trained animal restrainers. And cookies. I have two hands and my wits. I am seriously undermanned for this mission.

Did I mention this pug weighs 38lbs, has claws like a velociraptor, and the demeanor of the Tasmanian devil? Like Taz, he's sweet, lovable, playful, and let's admit it, a little short on brains. He can also make your living room look like a tornado has passed through.

He was fine when the vet did it. But at home, as soon as he saw the ear wash bottle, and heard me calling him, Fergus began manic-running around the living room. Up on the loveseat, leap to the couch, jump over the end table to land on the back of the recliner, which out of self defense tips over and dumps him onto the tile in the kitchen. From there he scrambles up, his nails skittering over the tile as he does the Scooby Doo frantic running in place move, until his nails gain purchase and send him shooting back into the living room where he slides across the wood floor and goes careening off the wall. It's like trying to catch a demented popcorn kernel.

I finally do manage to catch him, tackle him, and sit on him. (I did mention he's almost 40lbs, right?) After he gives up struggling and we both catch our breath, I realize that the medication and swabs I need are sitting on the kitchen counter. Across the room.

I can't lift him. I know forty lbs doesn't seem like a lot of weight, but he will do one of two things. He will either practice passive resistance and make his whole body go limp so he slithers through your arms like a lump of jello, or he will struggle like a pitbull on angel dust, making his 40lbs feel like 80 and risking being dropped and injured. So I improvise. I grab him around the middle and crawl towards the kitchen dragging him with me. He is simultaneously licking all over my face and digging his feet into me, the floor and any passing piece of furniture. We make it halfway to the kitchen and I change tactics, grabbing his front paws and trying to pull him.

That was my mistake. He instantly went limp, rolling from standing on his hind legs to falling over on his back, forcing me to either let go or break his legs. I only had a second to make a decision, so I opted to save the vet bill and let him go. He immediately ran over and jumped onto the recliner to monitor me. Head cocked, panting, tongue hanging out - I swear he was grinning ear to ear.

I retrieve the needed items and realize that I cannot hold onto everything AND catch him. Solution - my June Cleaver apron complete with spacious pockets. I get outfitted and stock my pockets and go back to retrieve Pugzilla, who is now refreshed and ready to rock and roll. Once more, he makes the rounds of the living room, at one point sliding under the coffee table and then standing before he exits, knocking the table over and scattering magazines, remotes and a bowl of potpourri across the living room floor. Meanwhile, the other dogs are in their crate jumping up and down, barking and howling and basically egging on Fergus' escape attempt. He finally slides into a corner where I am able to trap him and get my legs wrapped around him and pin him to the floor. Whew.

Mission accomplished. I get his ears cleaned and medicated and let him go, where he promptly stands up and shakes his head, spraying ear medicine all over the already demolished living room. I give up. His ears can rot and fall off for all I care. I let them all outside, clean the living room, and get settled in my chair in time to have my boyfriend come home and say "Hi Sweetie, how was your day?"

I just smile and say "Fine, baby, how was yours?" What can you say?