That Emergency fund did not last long…

December 12, 2017

My little peke Tucker needed some dental work. Total cost for 2 visits, drugs and the dental surgery was just over $400.00.   Add in my little stitches and I have spent about $1300.00 on medical bills.  Isn’t that the way it goes when you finally get a good emergency fund built up you obviously must have an emergency so you get more practice building an emergency fund!

I’m whining just a little bit but I’m also grateful that I had the cash on hand to pay cash for all the bills that have happened the last couple of months.  I’m doing  good financially because I had the “fund”.  I paid all my bills a little bit ahead, added the load of pine and still have a little bit of money in the bank, plus some cash on hand.  So overall things are looking darn good going into winter.

Like any person there are things I would like to get or have on hand, but I can’t think of anything I need to have on hand!  I need to get much more proactive on having that little cash emergency fund on hand and start re-building  it next year. Having that emergency fund really reduced my stress levels on paying medical bills.

Mom is trying to finish up all the paperwork for getting the mortgage on the house and is just a bit mental about all the hoops she has to jump through to get it finished up.  She is on a bit of a time crunch because finishing the loan before Dec 31st will give a huge mortgage tax deduction and save her a lot of money taxes to the IRS next year. All we need is the paper work done this year and then Mom can do her paint, and little repair jobs on the house in Jan. 2018, then move her stuff into the house.  While I’ll hate trying to move her in winter, we will have the use of the 1 ton dually to make the move happen.  I want my shop back, but I don’t mind storing Mom’s stuff until she has cleaned up the house and has a place for everything before she moves it into her home!

It will sort of suck having Mom living in a small town 20 miles away as Mom and I get along pretty well and mostly enjoy each others company.  We will be gaining two bases for different types of disasters.  My home, in a small city with good rail and truck transport for supplies.  Mom will be in a small town with 3/4 of an acre of land in a small town will give us a place for small critters and a good size garden.  Our two places will give us a lot of flexibility for prepping/ self reliance.

The next thing I’ll be saving up for will be a small trailer and a hitch installed on my Kia mini van.  I can only haul about 3000 pounds but that should be good enough for most of the jobs I want to do around the house.  The hitch and trailer total cost should be under $1000.00 which is cheaper than buying a pickup truck.  Also I want to buy a small used sail boat and learn to sail.  Next year I’ll join the local sailing club and look for a small day cruiser type sail boat in the 20-25 ft range.  A small boat that is easy to sail but can be something I can anchor, take a break and rest on if I get tired.  A small little out board motor to get me to the dock/boat ramp if I I can’t handle the sails on local little lakes.

I was in the Coast Guard Auxiliary and know basic boating safety and navigation.  I have taken the basic ASA course.  I know enough to know I don’t know enough about sailing.

I’m disabled but I’m not dead.  I want to learn new skills and try new thing right up to the limits of my disability and also have a plan when I exceed those limits that are not safe, not only for me but those around me.  I want to push my physical limits. I don’t want to be stupid and endanger other people.

I suppose I have rambled on enough to give you and up date.  When we get better weather I shoot a few photos of the siding project and the new look of Casa de Chaos.


New door knob and dead bolt installed

December 9, 2017

I have never changed a door knob or dead bolt before today.  Installing the new lever type door knob and dead bolt lock on the back door was a simple replacement job.  Changing from a standard twist knob to a lever type is easy just make sure you buy a handle that can be switched from left to right so you don’t get bound up by the door jamb/frame.  The door should be more secure as I replaced the 1/2 inch long strike plate screws with much longer screws that are screwed into the actual wood studs that frame the door and not just into finish wood around the door.

I did not lock the dead bolt at night on this door as the old lock was a key open system on both sides of the lock.  With the new dead bolt we have a simple knob we can turn on the inside of the door.  This dead bolt knob makes it much easier to get out the door in case of a house fire.

I know operating a door knob is not a big deal for most people.  Now I can grab that lever and give it a 90 degree twist/push to open the door.  The simple mechanics of a lever compared to gripping and twisting a standard round door knob is incredibly easier for me to use multiple times a day.  Plus the the new door hardware looks great on the newly painted doors and fits the new exterior very nicely.

One thing I noticed with hardware that is retro looking, such as the door levers rather that twist knobs or sink hardware levers/star type faucet fixtures is that hardware is more “Handicap Compliant/ ADA approved” compared to the average hardware around in many homes.  It is so much easier to push a lever open or close with an elbow or a hand that can’t grip as good as you age or get disabled.  Big plus is the hardware looks great in any type “look” you want in your home.  I know  now replacing a door knob is not a big deal.  Trust me getting your door open to get inside where it is warm and not fighting to get a grip on a round door knob can really cut down on the cussing!

Had an inversion in the valley this week and while it hasn’t been very cold, 30’s during the day and high teens at night the moisture of the fog  gives us chilly feeling.  The inversion has had an impact on how well the wood stoves burn and Mom and I are still trying to figure out how to use the wood stove since the house is better insulated and we have added more ceiling fans to move the air around.  I thought it would be simple this winter.  Nope, just different.

I need some help/info from you all if you make your own soft/wet dog food.  Mom and I want to make wet dog food and move the doggies off canned dog food.  I have a general idea of the grain to protein mix but I’m unsure of the vegetable matter that needs to be added and in what proportions.  Rice will be our primary grain and we will not use any sort of wheat products as our dogs do terrible on that grain.  We would be open to corn meal as a grain if you have used it for your dogs.  I also want to add fats like lard or beef tallow as I don’t have a warm a fuzzy feeling about most vegetable oils.


Scored! big time shopping this week

December 8, 2017

A new shop opened in the mall where Mom and I walk called the Yard Sale.  During the opening everything is $20.00 or less and Mom and I are grabbing a bunch of little items for backups or stuff we want around the house.

I’m a big fan of motion detection lights and I grabbed four  battery powered LED lights that light up when motion is detected for $3.00.  So far I placed one of the lights in the small bathroom that is working out great as a replacement light  for a quick hand washing or using the toilet without turning on the main bathroom light.  I placed the other light in a dark closet that holds coats, my vacuum cleaner and most of my DVDs.  It has been a nice surprise how a small LED light can light up a small area and make life a little bit easier.  I’m stocking up on rechargeable batteries but I  need another solar battery recharger. Mom bought several nice Solar motion detector LED lights and the most expensive one was $5.00 and it is a beast of light for brightness. Mom set the $5.00 light in a window for a couple or hours and it works great!

I got another small 14.1 megapixel digital camera.  It is a Vivatar and needed a memory card but for $5.00 who can complain?  Unlike my Olympus camera this Vivatar does not eat batteries when it is turned off.  I hope the shop will put out another camera for $5.00 but if not I’ll give Mom a camera so she has one when she gets her new home.

I got a nice little solder Iron kit for $10.00 though I need to add a heat sink and flux for it to be complete.  I have been wanting a soldering iron for small wiring repairs for a long time and this looks like this kit is a good basic starting setup.  I learned basic soldering in the Army for repairs so I can do simple repairs like reattaching wires that come loose on small stuff.  It is amazing how many things you can repair if you can just solder a wire back where it belongs.

I got an incredible buy on a 50 foot, 30 amp 10 gauge wire RV extension cord for only $20.00.  If you have bought an extension cord lately you know what a bargain that sucker was compared to buying it in a home improvement store or RV/marine store.

We are burning the pine and it does generate a lot of ash. It turned of a bit colder in the 20 degree F. range and Mom and I are still learning how to feed the wood stove so we keep a good temp without getting so hot we need to open a window to moderate the temp. in the house.  I added thermal backed curtains on a new heavy duty round curtain rod to my drafty backdoor entry way.  Get round curtain rods even if you have to splurge as they are a joy and super easy to open and close those curtains even if you are using “hooks”  on your curtains.  Even with good windows, blinds and thermal curtains help insulate your home.

Games are a good thing.  I  love the look of Cuphead and it is very tough to play via PC and a keyboard.  I got a game controller and it took some time but go into your Steam setting and setup the controller first before you set up the controller in Cuphead.   Yeah my hero is still a suicidal little maniac but at least I make a little more progress before the character offs himself.

I got a load of pine delivered.

December 4, 2017

All of the wood racks are full and I have some wood I stacked in the walk way between the wood racks that I still need to get stacked.   The weather is supposed to be clear and somewhat cool so I have a few days to get all the wood stacked for winter.

Very nice gal dropped off the wood but it took me 3.5 hours to get most of the wood stacked and my body is only good for about 2.5 hours worth of that kind of physical work.  Mom came out and helped me finish getting all the wood inside of the wood storage area.  One great thing about this wood delivery I got one wood rack about half full of kindling size wood  plus a box of kindling dropped off from the wood delivery folks.  Thank goodness there is no need to chop up kindling for awhile as it will probably take me two days to recover from stacking wood!

A couple of the new round curtain rods got hung and so far they are working out great.  Even the curtains that use the hooks are moving easier compared to the cheap rectangular type rods.  I recommend that you space the curtain rod brackets a few inches wider than the old bracket hardware. You can spread out your curtains and the window seems larger but you can still close off the window for privacy or to retain heat.

I sewed, actually I just darned up some holes in some sweats.  I have tried repairing the holes before but I used very cheap thread from a dollar store sewing kit.  Lets just say the previous repair jobs were less than satisfactory.  Hard to blame the “sewing kits” as they are for temporary fixes.  Buy good quality thread is probably a no brainier for those of you that sew, but as a newbie to the fabric repair thing it has been an educational experience for me.

My kitty cottage does not seem to have a day time resident or sun basker but the food is eaten and we are trying to keep fresh water for the cats that wander through the yard.  A couple of the cats have let us touch them so not all are feral.  The yard might just be a good spot for the cats to be safe and grab a snack.

The house Mom is looking at has a couple of issues discovered via the home inspector.  Mom likes the house but she either wants the issues fixed or the price dropped so she can fix the issues.  No biggie either way as I really don’t want to help her move winter again.  Moving sucks bad enough without adding ice and snow to the mix.


Painted doors, new locks and sharper axes

November 26, 2017

The dense foam rollers did a great job on my metal doors.  I don’t see any brush strokes on the finish. My aunt stopped by today and she thought I had installed a new door so I guess that job is complete!

Of course now that the door looks new, all of the door hardware needs to be updated  I’m change to a lever handle rather than using the twist knob type of hardware.  The lever type door hardware is much easier for me to operate when my hands go wonky or when carrying stuff inside the house.  The original door knobs from when I moved in are starting to get loose inside because of wear and tear of the last couple of decades since installation.  I can’t afford to do a full security retro-fit but I can add much longer screws to the lock plates and tie them into the door studs rather than using the short screws that just drill into the door frame.  I can’t stop someone determined to get in but I can make them take a bit more time and be a bit more noisy if they want Breaking and entering my house.

Mom and I are slowly gathering new curtain and blind hardware around the windows.  I have picked up several of the round decorative curtain rods to replace the old rectangle/cheap rods.  Adding the new rods will make opening up the curtains much easier compared to what I am using at this time.  With new windows I want it to be easy to open up and see outside.

I got my hatchet and single bit ax sharpened up.  I generally use the single bit ax to cut kindling and split the bigger chunks of wood.  While some people claim a dull ax is better for splitting wood I disagree.  A sharp ax is like a sharp knife as it safer and more effective cutting wood.  I also found out why my splitting wedge just “bonked” off chunks of wood.  There was no sharpen edge on the ax edge at all.  I have seen garden shovels with more of a cutting edge than this splitting maul had on it.  I assumed that a “splitting wedge” ax would have at least a some sort cutting edge but I was wrong.  It’s not all bad news, as now I will have to get some files and learn how to put a cutting edge on an ax.

Another lesson learned splitting soft woods like pine or Douglass fir, it is best to split from the outside/bark side in and with harder woods like maple it’s best to start in the middle and go with the grain to split from the inside out toward the bark outside.  This an early theory of mine as my wood splitting time is  physically limited but so far it seems to have proved out on splitting fruit woods I have on hand.  The maple wood that I have at with an ax will split easily if I go with the grain of the wood.

I have not tried the newly sharpened hatchet on the “mill ends” to make kindling.  It will be an interesting test to see how the hatchet does going through a mix of  hard and soft woods used for “mill ends” I had delivered.

The new Kitty Cottage seems to be water-resistant if not water tight.  The food bowl is getting emptied and the water bowl is easy  for Mom and I too clean and refill.   So far it has been very warm this fall compared to last year so a warm enclosed sleeping spot has not been a high priority for the cats.  The cats are still showing up for mice/ hunt the little birds and have a guaranteed meal of kitty kibble.  All the cats have to evade is my small house dogs.  Most of these cats look very healthy so they may have owners that simply let them roam.  As they say cats don’t have owners, they have staff!

New paint rollers and BBQing the turkey

November 22, 2017

I got some of those dense foam paint rollers for painting the entry doors and giving a smooth finished look.  I’ll use a fine grit sanding block to knock down the paint strokes and get a smooth surface area for the paint.  Once the paint is done all that is left is to add the new door hardware then most of the House exterior jobs will be complete except for the gutter covers.  One very nice thing my siding guy did is dump out all the gutters and place the gutter at the correct angle for water flow, as he did the siding so the house is ready for winter.  Water dams should be less problematic this winter!

I changed up my easy access charcoal storage method to a small galvanized trash can.  The size of the trash can is perfect for holding the 40 pounds of chunk charcoal though the bag had some darn big chunks that were almost small logs.  This should work out great for making a good layer of  coals for cooking the turkey.  FYI if you brine and BBQ a turkey the meat take on a pink color so use a meat thermometer to insure you reach at least 165 degrees F. for a done turkey and let the bird rest in tinfoil, breast down for at least 20-30 minutes before carving.  While the bird is cooking I rotate it every 15-20 minutes and flip it every hour of cooking to ensure even cooking.  I keep a small pan under the bird to catch the drippings as well as add liquid to steam the bird during cooking.  You can add White wine, dark beer or vegetable stock the the pan to help cook the bird.  By BBQing  your bird you free up the oven to bake pies, rolls or casserole type dishes.  Leftovers: If you have any the shredded turkey meat makes great sandwiches or turkey tacos.   Trust me if you brine and BBQ a turkey you won’t get dry and tasteless white meat.

For the turkey brine figure about 1 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of sugar per gallon of  liquid.  I like using Apple cider for my liquid and then you can go nuts on spices you like for flavor.  Get your turkey out of the brine and give it about 30 minutes to warm to room temp before you throw it on the grill.  This is the time to add oils and spices to the bird directly.  I never have BBQed a “stuffed bird” but adding a few sprigs of rosemary, bay leaf, cloves of garlic or raw veggies to the cavity can add a lot of flavor.  If you must have turkey infused stuffing I’d get a small fire safe pan and place it below the turkey during the last hour/ 30 minutes of BBQing  to catch the drippings then stuff the bird during it’s rest time.

BBQing a turkey is very simple but it is not as easy as throwing it in a roasting pan in an oven.

Critter beds and painting the doors

November 20, 2017

We got rain and a bit of wind the last couple of days and the kitty cottage did okay though I need to add a bit more wood to finish up the boxes.  I added a couple of those throws to the boxes and the kitties can “knead” the blankets into place.  The boxes are still a bit exposed but most feral/alley cats are very keen to have a good view at all times.

I bought a little pet bed and set it out for Tucker the little peke and he loves it!  Now the little guy can have a place in the computer room and not worry about getting stepped on.  Plus he always seemed to be sensitive to drafts and cooler temps.  In just one day of having his own little place for keeping warm and not getting stepped on when he naps. Tucker is much more relaxed and that has started to go through our little pack of dogs.

I bought a foam paint roller for finishing up the doors and a fine grade sanding square.  I want a smooth semi-gloss finish to the door paint with no brush strokes trails.  Some folks like that brush stroke look,  I think for the “Craftsman” look I want, a more clean/finished look is best. I’m pricing projectors for Xmas lights rather than hanging Xmas lights until I get a handle on the new siding.  Drilling or poking holes at random on my new house siding seems to be contra-indicated.

So far stocking up on Ice melt, snow blower and building up the driveways and wood racks has worked to appease the snow gods!  It will be some what damp for Thanksgiving but the high temps are in high 50-60 F. degree range.  You all in the Great lakes and NE are going to get hammered but so far the Inter-mountain West are getting off easy for the weather.  I ain’t getting cocky as the Cold tends to hit in January.  I’ve prepared as best I can and all I can do is wait and see what mama nature throws at me.

One great thing is the thanksgiving turkey will be cooked at the BBQ at almost 60 degree F. weather rather than freezing  weather like last year. Maintaining 325-350 F. on the BBQ is going to be easy in 50 +F. degree weather.  Usually I prefer snow to rain gbut after last year I’m good with rain after dropping drainage rock in the Driveway but I’m ready for the ice.